He was two weeks removed from tearing the ACL in his right knee on a brutal hit against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 5 and was settling in to watch the game when he asked his wife, Amanda, to get him one of his jerseys, a football, his helmet and cleats. Williams put them all on, sat on a recliner in his living room, put up the foot rest and posed for a photo that was initially intended just to make his family laugh.
It did more than that. He, his wife and his parents, who were in town from Minnesota to help out after Williams' knee surgery, couldn't stop laughing.
"It was a good laugh that we needed especially me and my wife and my family, just from everything that happened," Williams told ESPN. "It was one of those moments where it just kind of was a spur of the moment and it was great. It was funny and we ran with it."
Oh, did he.
Williams decided to post the photo on Twitter with the caption: "Might not be playing, but locked in for today! 1-0 mentality! #BirdGang #superfan #ballislife @AZCardinals."
The photo took off and has more than 12,200 likes. Williams didn't expect the type of viral reaction it received but he knew he was on to something, thus prompting a weekly post that's a mix of creativity, humor and football.
"It's been great, Williams said. "It's great to be able to interact with the fans like this and doing something to still, I don't want to say be part of the team, that's not what I'm looking for, but to have something to look forward to on Sundays.
"On Sundays, it's tough, especially not being at the games even being hurt, so it's a great thing to still interact with fans, show how much I still care about the community and the fan base and still have fun with it."
The day Williams posted his first photo, he was already thinking about the next one. And it was too good to pass up.
Williams recreated the viral photo of Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury sitting on his couch before the 2020 draft, the one with a leg on a table and a fire lit in the backyard. Williams tried to match Kingsbury's outfit as close as possible with a white button down, but instead of slacks he wore tight joggers because of his knee injury. Just before his wife took the photo, Williams took off his brace.
But planning that picture was a lot harder than expected.
During a text message with Kingsbury, Williams asked how the coach did it.
"I said, 'I don't know who took your photo or how you guys set it up but that sucked. That took forever,'" Williams remembered. "Kliff has his house set up like that. We had to reorganize, get stuff cleaned up, make it all perfect. Kliff's picture was unrealistic. No one was living in that house when he took that picture. It was too perfectly cleaned up."
Williams had to clean up dog toys strewn around the floor and make the room look as staged as possible. After he posted the photo, he realized he made one mistake: He forgot to light his fire place.
Williams sent Kingsbury the photo before posting it. Kingsbury laughed, told Williams it was "perfect" and said it put a smile on his face.
"'I couldn't believe he could fit in those slacks,' was the first thought," Kingsbury said. "They looked a little snug. I was glad he could have some fun with it."
But Williams felt that picture should've been kept in his back pocket.
"I peaked too soon on that one," Williams said. "I should have kept the Kliff photo for the last game of the year."
Next game was was Amanda's idea.
Williams wanted a "Happy Gilmore beer dispensing hat" vibe for Arizona's game against the 49ers and chose to go with water because he hasn't been drinking beer during the season.
"You'd be amazed how many comments of people asking me, 'Did that go to beer right away?' I said, 'No, it actually didn't,'" Williams said.
He had ordered a foam finger to go with the hat and it was supposed to arrive either Saturday night or early Sunday morning. It showed up three hours after the game started. That week's photo had already posted.
Williams decided to improvise and make his dog, Duke, a star of the photo.
Duke and I are proud to honor Pat Tillman and everyone in our military as part of Cards Salute to Service! Thank you for all the sacrifices to protect our freedom! #Superfans #Redsea #1-0 #Thankyou @AZCardinals @NFL pic.twitter.com/Ogl9hwx5MI— Maxx Williams (@williams_maxx) November 14, 2021
Williams ordered a Pat Tillman Cardinals' jersey about two weeks earlier but the package wasn't there by game day. So, the day before the game, Williams asked Cardinals linebacker Dennis Gardeck if he could borrow his Tillman jersey.
"The Salute to Service [game], just right after we had veteran's day, that was a no-brainer," Williams said. "I was honoring those people who truly make the ultimate sacrifice for us to keep our freedoms and the people that give themselves to the military."
The jersey of Tillman, the former Cardinal who was killed in Afghanistan in 2004 while serving as an Army Ranger, eventually arrived and Williams is grateful to have it.
"I'm actually kind of glad I have it because just having a Pat Tillman jersey, it's a special jersey to have," he said. "So, it's kind of nice to have that jersey the rest of my life."
Changing it up this week! I would like to Introduce the #ToTheMaxx Award. I'll give this out to who I think is the player of the game each week, so hit me up with any suggestions during the game!#redsea @AZCardinals #1-0 pic.twitter.com/MTIdlYvEbz— Maxx Williams (@williams_maxx) November 21, 2021
After talking with the Cardinals' social-media team, who found a trophy that looked similar to Williams sitting in the recliner, he started to hand out a weekly player of the game award. The first one went to backup quarterback Colt McCoy after he led Arizona to a win in Seattle, his second victory as a backup in three games in place of an injured Kyler Murray. McCoy sent this picture in return:
"It's a way for me to still be involved, interact with the fans see what the fans are saying and just kind of get everyone's input," Williams said. "Just something fun to do at home."
Can't call myself a superfan if I don't tailgate for Cardinals games! Don't forget to send your suggestions for today's #ToTheMaxx MVP of the game! Go Cards! #RedSea #1-0 #BirdGang @Traeger @nfl @AZCardinals pic.twitter.com/xB0g2tu6S3— Maxx Williams (@williams_maxx) December 5, 2021
Williams added another post to his collection when Arizona was in Chicago, this one of him grilling. He said the posts will get more creative as he gets more mobile -- the result of him and Amanda coming up with ideas throughout the day.
"We brainstorm some funny idea," he said. "It's more about just taking those brainstorming ideas and turning it into an actual good photo."