When Matthew Stafford was traded after 12 seasons with the Detroit Lions, it was clear that the next person to don his iconic No. 9 jersey number would have big shoes to fill. Stafford holds multiple Lions records and was a leader for the organization and in the community.
After 2021 saw no one attempt to wear No. 9, the Lions have allowed the jersey to be worn by another player for the 2022 season: first-round draft pick Jameson Williams.
According to a report from ESPN’s Eric Woodyard, Williams—who was previously assigned No. 18—was looking for a number in the single digits, and with only No. 9 unclaimed (No. 7 is not currently assigned because it was retired by the organization after being worn by the legendary Dutch Clark), he reached out to Stafford to ask for permission. Stafford agreed.
The change has been confirmed and made official on the team’s website.
At a previous press conference, Williams told the media he had reached out to teammate Jeff Okudah for No. 1—the number he wore at Alabama—but Okudah was unwilling to part with the number. It’s worth noting that Okudah wore No. 1 at Ohio State when both he and Williams were teammates.
With No. 1 stuck on Okudah’s back, Williams initially selected No. 18 as a tribute to Calvin Johnson (No. 81) and Randy Moss (No. 18, during his time with the Raiders and 81 with the Patriots)
Williams is currently recovering from an ACL injury he suffered in the National Championship Game last January, but his return to the field is one of the most anticipated moments of the season. Williams possesses Olympic-level speed and is dripping with confidence, and when he finds the field later this season, he is anticipated to dramatically change the Lions' offense for the better.
If anyone can pull off No. 9, it’s probably Williams.