How Cartoon Watching Motivated Lions’ Jamaal Williams During Detroit’s Tough First Season – Detroit Lions Blog

By the time members of the media surrounded Jamaal Williams outside the visitors locker room at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Dec. 26, the Detroit Lions running back had changed his uniform to a ninja headband with the streak anime Naruto, and an anime-themed T-shirt.

His wardrobe may not have resembled that of a typical NFL player, but it’s a reflection of an off-court obsession with Japanese cartoons that he credits with helping him make face during a difficult first season in Detroit.

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A fourth-round draft pick by the Green Bay Packers in 2017, Williams hadn’t lost much before signing with the Lions as a free agent last March. He had lost six games in total in his last two seasons in Green Bay. In Detroit, he suffered as many losses in Week 6.

“That losing thing is not something that I really have… I’ll never be comfortable with that,” Williams said.

“This year has just been a good year of adversity and having adversity as a challenge.”

To help deal with these tough times, Williams, whose social media accounts often feature anime imagery and references, said he relied on inspirational messages from his favorite characters.

“I’ve watched so many anime motivational speeches from my boys Naruto [main character of “Naruto”] and Luffy [main character of “One Piece”]. That’s why I love anime,” said Williams, whose favorite show is “JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure.” I’ve watched, everything I’ve watched anime, they go through adversity every episode – like literally.”


American audiences are used to viewing animation as cheap childish entertainment, but from the perspective of the Japanese entertainment industry, it’s a mode of storytelling that isn’t encumbered by practicalities and the budget considerations of making physical live-action movies, according to popular anime YouTuber Geoff Thew – known online as “Mother’s Basement”.

Thew has 1.22 million subscribers on his YouTube channel, which produces content analyzing the anime industry. He told ESPN that anime can provide not only motivation, but also a wide range of emotional experiences for viewers that you would find in film or any other major artistic medium.

“That said, if you’re looking for motivation, you’ll find it in abundance among Shounen anime and manga. [Japanese comics], like “JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure,” Thew said. “Many Shounen works are united by a common narrative thread of heroes pushing back entrenched power structures with their own individual strength and the support of their friends.”

Often these anime stories will devote almost as much screen time to training and strategy sessions as the great controversy itself, making victory, when it comes, feel good and truly deserved. , said Thew.

“And because we in the audience see the process, the struggle, not just the outcome, it can make our own struggles more manageable and our own goals more achievable, especially with a good team on our side.” he declared.


Williams’ mother, Nicolle, first noticed her son had a strong fondness for anime shortly after he arrived at BYU in 2012.

Over time, it became an obsession. So much so that once he joined the Packers, he started wearing anime clothes.

“I remember when he had his first [anime] jacket, then the headband and the pants,” Nicolle said. “You would have thought he was in a Gucci outfit or something. He really started to embrace his anime in the NFL.

Nicolle was initially troubled by her son’s fascination. When they watched episodes, she dreaded reading the subtitles, but over time she saw the genre evolve in America, especially without subtitles, and she developed an appreciation for the art, mainly due deeper messages of courage and overcoming issues that get highlighted through the storylines.

“It just gave him a better understanding that he can be who he wants to be and not conform to the world around him,” Nicolle said. “He’s never been one to really party and hang out with a lot of people. He’s kind of for himself and does what he wants to do, and I think that just gave him a little more motivation so that you don’t have to be like everyone else. You can be yourself.


Sixteen days before the game in Atlanta, Williams was placed on the COVID-19/reserve roster, making him unavailable for Detroit’s games against the Denver Broncos and Arizona Cardinals.

The time away from the team gave him plenty of time to watch many of his favorite shows. And in his first game back, he responded with 77 yards on 19 carries in a 20-16 loss to the Falcons.

“Yeah, I watched so much, I was like, ‘Maybe I should just stop watching it so I can keep a few shows to myself,'” Williams said of her time in quarantine. “But, honestly, it kept me cool.

“It’s just anime stuff and the main purpose of all of them is not to give up, and that’s what we’re in. So everyone goes through life and adversity. “

Williams said he especially admires the determination of the characters in the shows.

“They never give up, and that’s what you have to take in real life,” added Williams. “So when it’s time for your own anime, you’re going to go through adversity. Just make sure to keep fighting and make your anime series the best it can be, and never give up and keep fighting. for what you want.

Charles P. Patton