Cary Williams had experience in being overlooked.
Thus, when the Tennessee Titans waived him in early November 2009 he handled things much better than when he left Fordham University a few years earlier.
“It was me saying some crazy things to coaches after I felt like I should have been playing,” he said earlier this week of his college experience. “They weren’t playing me. It was a learning experience. It was a humbling experience at Fordham when I had to control that beast and understand that there is a political aspect to the game as well. There are some things I had to control as a person as well.”
After they drafted him in the seventh round in 2008, the Titans did not play him much either. He spent all but one game of his first season on the practice squad and appeared in just four more in 2009 before the Titans cut him loose.
This Sunday, he will be tough to miss at cornerback for the Baltimore Ravens when they face they San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII.
In his second season as a starter he finished the regular season tied for the team lead with four interceptions — the first four of his career — and was third overall with 75 tackles and had a sack with 17 passes defended. He then helped the Ravens close out the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship when he intercepted a pass in the end zone with 1:06 remaining.
“When it comes to football I get intense man,” he said. “You see that on Sunday each and every week. I love football. I love the game and it brings some type of animal out in you.”
That passion did not serve the Hollywood, Fla., product well when he made the decision to leave Fordham. His antics on the way out the door earned him a reputation as a troublemaker and limited his options.
He ended up at Division II Washburn University.
“Man, no one else was interested in me. I actually had a scholarship on the table at Hofstra University and they just said they couldn’t do it because they heard some things about me at Fordham,” he said. “That’s what it was. I ended up at Washburn and it was one of the great times of my life there. It taught me to continue to work hard, to continue to put my head down and to continue to believe in my faith so that everything would work out for the greater good.”
Things worked out well enough that the Titans made him the fifth Washburn player ever taken in the NFL draft.
Things worked out even better when the Titans released him. Rather than take a step back, he stepped right on to the field for Baltimore and played in five games before the end of the 2009 season. That was as many appearances as he made in more than a season and a half in Tennessee.
He became a starter in 2011 and has not missed a game since.
“The Lord has been good to me,” he said. “He’s blessed me with so many friends and so many people in my corner even when I’ve done the wrong things. With His help, I’ve gotten to this point. It’s just amazing. It’s a tear-jerking experience to come where I came from. I always believed in my faith whether it was Liberty City, Fordham or Washburn.”
He always believed in his ability too – even when others did not.