In the Detroit Lions’ official video of training camp highlights, we saw running back Jamaal Williams in a different light than we normally see him. Typically, Williams is cracking jokes, making faces, or dancing on the field. But in the video, Williams played the intense motivator rather than the person keeping practice light.
“We gonna fight, and let the people know, ‘Don’t fuck with us. We the Lions,’” Williams said in the video. “Whatever they think they know about us, they don’t know shit. Every time we go into a game, we gonna lock them fucking gates, and let them know, ‘You stuck with us, because we’re about to bury your ass.’”
Williams said this is a side of him that isn’t seen publicly often, but it’s also an effort to accept his role as a veteran leader out there.
“I’m just trying to step up more as the leader that I am,” Williams said. “When I see something or how I’m feeling, I just want to make my teammates understand how I’m feeling and what we can do better and what type of team we can be.
“It’s really just a mindset, and I feel like the more we talk about, and the more that we keep this level of expectation for ourselves, everybody else on the team is going to get contagious, and then they see we really can do something special here. It’s all mental.”
We saw that leadership show up during Tuesday's practice after second-year running back Jermar Jefferson broke several tackles on the way to a 50+ yard touchdown. Williams was screaming downfield amping up his teammate. But the running back noted how important it was to keep spirits high during the down plays, too.
“Even when they do something bad or I feel like somebody didn’t do good on the play, first thing I’m going to try and get them real quick,” Williams said. “Lift them up, let them know, ‘Next play. Let’s go. Next play. Don’t matter what happened last play. Matters what you’re going to do after that.’”
It’s not just this other side of his personality that Williams thinks may surprise people. When it comes to his own play, Williams believes he’s misunderstood. At 6-foot, 224 pounds, it’s easy to see him as just a physical runner, capable of picking up gritty third-and-shorts between the tackles. William reminded the media that he’s much more than just that.
“People think they understand what type of football player I am, and they don’t have no clue what I can do,” Williams said. “I literally can take anybody’s ankles. I ain’t scared of nobody. Route running, running the ball, blocking, I can do it all, and I have no problem having confidence in myself. Because I know what type of player I am and what type of work I put in.”
Of course, there’s plenty of the old Williams in there, too—the “nerd” as he self-proclaims. Before his media session, Williams spent nearly an hour signing autographs and receiving anime gifts from fans. While he admitted he’d rather be inside the building sleeping, he’s appreciative of the fans who stay for hours, especially if they bring gifts.
“If people bring anime stuff, I know they understand me as a person, and they don’t just see me as a football player,” Williams said. “So (if) you understand me as a person, you get more attention from me. Bring me some stuff, and I give you stuff.”