We won’t know until September whether new Detroit Lions tight end Luke Willson can replace some of the production left by Eric Ebron’s departure, but there’s little doubt the former Seahawk will bring just as much—if not, more—entertainment to the franchise.
Ebron was one of the more colorful characters in the locker room, whether he was boasting about his video game talents, leading the charge in touchdown celebrations or just expressing his love for Pokemon Go. Of course, that mood took on a whole different meaning once his performance turned fans against him. What was once “playful” and “endearing” became “distracting” and “immature.” His “confidence” quickly turned into the less charming “cockiness.” Some were happy to see his “antics” go elsewhere this offseason, while others lamented the loss of a rare player who dared to show some personality.
Regardless of your thoughts on Ebron’s personality, his new potential replacement will be bringing plenty of it to Detroit in 2018.
Luke Willson is a bombastic person on and off the field. He’ll wow you with an athletic touchdown, follow it up with a creative celebration and then give you the perfect quote in the locker room after the play.
It’s that trifecta that made Willson one of Pete Carroll’s favorite players to coach. Via Kyle Meinke of MLive:
“Luke’s just a terrific team guy, man,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “He’s really something. One of my favorite guys we’ve ever had in the program because of the attitude he brings.
”He’s an all-around tight end. Has not specifically been the Y -- the heavy blocker -- and hasn’t been specifically the movement tight end. He’s been a little bit of everything. Very versatile, and a good special teams guy. But he’s a great guy to have on your club, and he’s going to be a great addition for them.”
While Willson’s football merits will remain up for debate until he takes the field with the Lions, his affable character is unquestionable. Willson created one of the most... let’s say “interesting” traditions with the Seahawks last year. Again, from Meinke:
He was outstanding in the locker room, and even started something called “Techno Thursdays” to keep practices interesting. Seattle would blast techno music at the start of practice, and players wore short shorts.
Yes, this is true, and yes, there is video:
While silly dancing and short shorts don’t directly improve a team’s’ performance, there’s value in these kind of team-building traditions. Tucked away in that farce of a press conference is a pretty neat story about Willson and his teammate.
Offensive lineman Jordan Roos, who was the inspiration for the short-shorts aspect of the Techno Thursday tradition, was an undrafted rookie last year. He is an unassuming character who appeared timid and awkward in front of the media last year. He’s a man of few words and seemingly the polar opposite of Willson. Coming into the NFL with the odds already stacked against him, Seattle had to be an intimidating environment for Roos, but Willson took strides to make him more comfortable.
“He’s a great guy to have in your corner,” Roos said. “My locker got moved by him, so he’s just kind of taken me under his wing, and it’s been a great time.”
But it wasn’t just kismet that brought the two together as locker room neighbors and friends, Willson stepped in to make sure it happened.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever told you this,” Willson said to Roos in front of the media. “But after Week 2, I went to our equipment staff and said, ‘If Jordan Roos makes the team, I need his locker directly beside mine.’”
Roos did end up making the team and played in seven games last season as an undrafted rookie.
While comraderie like this is hard to translate into wins and losses, and Willson’s overall impact in Detroit will be judged more by his accomplishments on the field, his attitude and infectious personality will quickly win over fans now that he’s playing for his hometown team. And who knows? Maybe he’ll bring Techo Thursdays to Detroit along with one of those fancy rings he has.