Divas are real in the NFL. Locker room cancers are, too. These things have existed over the course of the NFL’s long history. I can’t and I won’t dispute it. However, this narrative is thrown around incredibly loosely these days. Anytime a player does anything that fans don’t like, they’re immediately pelted directly in the face by accusations of being locker room cancer or not working hard enough or given the title of diva. It’s almost as if fans can’t wait to place this moniker on a player. It isn’t widespread yet, but that’s what is starting to happen with Detroit Lions receiver Jameson Williams, and I want to nip it in the bud right now.
Fans have been weird about Williams since the day he was drafted by the Lions. There was some initial concern when some fans perceived that he looked upset about being drafted by the Lions. Here’s the video of Williams being drafted by the Lions. Where does this guy look mad? Right after this Williams went out and joined Lions fans to celebrate.
Then the problem transferred from draft night to his first presser at Allen Park. Williams apparently didn’t show the excitement that fans were hoping he would show and then the concern and worry became about his demeanor. Just a couple days into his run as a Lion and he’s already been painted as a guy who was upset about being drafted by the Lions and has bad demeanor. All the while he’s showing plenty of reasons to believe that this isn’t true.
For a while, it seemed like all of this disappeared. Williams was showing up to every practice with a smile on his face and a ball in his hand while recovering from his ACL and everyone was happy—even through the entire 2022 season.
Everything seemed fine until one Bears writer totally misunderstood a comment from Lions general manager Brad Holmes.
Here’s the entire quote—not just the sentence Schmitz pulled out—responding to the question: what do you expect of Jameson Williams in 2023?
“Obviously, we’re expecting big things. I guess that’s a good way to put it. It’s kind of like a brand-new first-round pick. The goal when we originally drafted him, we didn’t know really how much we were gonna get out of him, but it was good to have him get some kind of game experience to kind of feel the speed of the game.
“But, yeah, we’re going to continue to do everything we need to do to make sure he’s set up to succeed. Jameson also has to hold his part and make sure that he’s doing everything that he needs to do. It’s always an accountability factor on both sides, but we expect big things from him. He’s got rare talent, rare ability. He’s got a serious passion for the game. Yeah, we expect big things from him, but obviously we’ve got to do both our parts to make sure he’s set up to succeed.”
If you simply listen to Holmes talking here, you would see that he’s saying the same kind of stuff he always says. He’s simply saying that the Lions are going to do everything on their part to make sure that Williams is successful and that he has to also put forth that same effort. That’s it. That’s all that’s being said here. Somehow it got twisted into something that suggests that Williams—who has a ton of proof of putting in hard work rehabbing from a torn ACL injury—isn’t putting in the work. These things constantly prove themselves wrong.
From an outsider’s perspective, the Lions talking about “accountability” may seem accusatory or indicate doubt or mistrust in a player. But to anyone who has been paying attention to this franchise under Dan Campbell and company, that has been a buzz word that permeates the entire Lions culture:
Since then, it feels like there has been a new accusation or nuisance from fans everyday. Some fans don’t like that he liked and commented on a Lamar Jackson Instagram post or that he liked a tweet about Jackson being a Lion. I can see why people don’t like it, but it’s still a pretty big reach to infer that this means he hates Jared Goff and he is a diva. He’s a 22-year-old kid who likes Lamar Jackson. That shouldn’t be a surprise.
Maybe he should be a little more careful with his social media accounts, because everyone is going to pick apart everything he does. Or maybe—just maybe—we’re the problem for overanalyzing every little thing a a young kid does. In terms of Jameson Williams being a good NFL player and a good teammate, what he likes on social media has no bearing.
Then there’s Williams’ late night live sessions on Instagram in which he just talks. He’s not doing anything illegal, just chatting and having a good time. In other words, he’s doing things that a ton of 22 year olds who grew up in the social media age are doing. I know there are some football fans who believe athletes should spend 23 hours of a day practicing football, but that’s just not a real thing. It’s the offseason.
Nobody is going to like what I have to say right here, but I’m just going to say it. This is the same thing that happened with Eric Ebron. He dropped a couple passes in his first training camp and fans immediately began to label him a bust and question his attitude over and over again on social media until his time with the Lions was done.
It’s super easy to sit on our couches and talk the right way to act as a professional according to our own ideals. But the reality is that they’re not robots. They’re human beings—and very young ones, at that—who have lives outside of the game. They’re on social media, they’re fans of other athletes that don’t play for your team, and they have differing levels of public enthusiasm and a variety of personalities.
Yes, the Lions have hurt you in the past. I totally get it. They’ve picked players who busted or couldn’t stay out of trouble. That doesn't mean you have to place your insecurities on every player that comes into town because they don’t act the way you want them to. Jameson Williams is guilty of being nothing more than a 22-year-old kid who is living his dream and living a life outside of that dream.