Detroit Lions running back Jamaal Williams has one message for the NFL: I gotta be me.
While leading the NFL in rushing touchdowns with 17 in 2022, Williams rose to prominence as a contributing factor on a rising playoff contender. The former BYU star finally busted out in his sixth season, gaining 1,006 yards on the ground, while averaging 4.1 yards per carry.
Although the Lions (9-8) failed to make the playoffs for the first time since 2016, they were in the hunt all the way down to the final weekend. Now, it seems that all the pieces are starting to fall in place for the team, as they assemble behind Head Coach Dan Campbell.
Jamaal Williams emerged as one of those pieces, after initially being viewed as a potential backup to 2020 second-round pick D’Andre Swift. He had already spent a few years as a part-time player for Green Bay, so the Lions were pleasantly surprised he became the feature back.
Williams then literally took the ball and ran with it. Not just reaching the end zone prolifically, but doing it in style.
Williams entertained audiences with his showmanship, making him one of the more well-liked players in the NFL.
While his teammates and the fans may enjoy his mirth, the NFL Commissioner’s office apparently does not. The effervescent ball carrier received $28,000 in fines during the 2022 season for excessive celebration. Apparently, Roger Goodell has no sufferance for his swagger, and Williams is voicing his displeasure about it.
He recently appeared on the 33rd Team podcast hosted by his teammate, Lions wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown and his brother, Bears pass catcher Equanimeous St. Brown. During the show, Jamaal Williams said that he doesn’t understand why there’s such a stigma over what he does.
“I get fined for this stuff. I just feel like they’re trying to take my personality away, my joy,” he told them. “Because now, I literally have to stop doing it. So now, when I score, I’m literally just gonna sit down and pout like a little baby, or something.”
He also stated that he also found it ironic that the NFL frequently takes financial action against its players for their excessive observances, yet they will use those same celebrations in highlight films later.
“I’m doing nothing wrong. They’re just being weenies. They want to fine me, yet put all that stuff up there, brand it and put me up there and use it. They want to take my money, though,” he said.
Regardless of the cash being removed from his pocket, Lions fans are counting on a lot more celebrating from Williams in 2023.
Regardless of anything that happened off the field for Williams and the Lions, the future appears bright in Motor City. After barely missing the postseason this year, the team holds two of the top 18 picks in April’s draft. Adding just a few instant impact players and finding some help in free agency could position them to contend for the NFC North Division Championship.
However, for the Detroit Lions to reach the promised land in 2023, they will still need Jamaal Williams to continue doing a lot more scoring. And maybe… just a little less dancing.