For DeAngelo Williams, setbacks help fuel his success.
In 2015, the 32-year-old Pittsburgh Steelers running back racked up 907 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns on 200 carries. That marked his most productive season since 2009, when he churned out 1,117 yards and seven scores on 216 totes.
What added to his motivation? His release from the Carolina Panthers—the team that drafted him and where he played for his first nine years.
As Williams tweeted Monday, he retained his release notice from Carolina, issued on March 10, 2015, after an ankle injury ended his 2014 campaign prematurely. He even kept it in a location visible to him every day.
Little did the Panthers know telling Williams his "skill or performance has been unsatisfactory" would help lead to his career renaissance. When Le'Veon Bell went down with a torn MCL in Week 8, Williams stepped into the starting lineup and helped the Steelers earn a playoff berth.
Should the Panthers make their way back to the Super Bowl stage next season, they could well find themselves facing Williams and the Steelers.