As members of the media circled Jamaal Williams outside the visitor’s locker room at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on December 26, the Detroit Lions running back had changed his uniform and was wearing a headband. ninja with the animated series Naruto and an anime themed T-shirt.
His wardrobe may not have looked like a typical NFL player’s, but it’s a reflection of an off-field obsession with Japanese cartoons that he credits with helping him. to face during a difficult first season in Detroit.
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A fourth-round pick for 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 at Green Bay. In Detroit, he suffered as many losses in Week 6.
âThis losing thing isn’t something that I reallyâ¦ I’ll never get comfortable with,â Williams said.
“This year has just been a good year of adversity and adversity as a challenge.”
To help cope with those difficult times, Williams, whose social media accounts often feature anime images and references, said he relied on inspirational posts from his favorite characters.
“Watched so many anime motivational speeches from my Naruto boys [main character of âNarutoâ] and Luffy [main character of âOne Pieceâ]. That’s why I love anime, âsaid Williams, whose favorite show isâ JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure â. âIt’s just something that I know that’s always going to keep me in shape, and every show I’ve watched, everything I’ve watched anime, they go through adversity in every episode – like literally. “
American audiences are used to seeing animation as cheap and childish entertainment, but from the perspective of the Japanese entertainment industry, it is a storytelling mode unencumbered by practicalities and budget considerations. of making live physical 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 an array of emotional experiences for viewers that you might find in a movie or other major art medium.
These are my two examples of taking your pain from the world and making a positive impact on the world https://t.co/LSIsXzs4Rf
– Jamaal Williams (@jswaggdaddy) May 3, 2021
“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’, âsaid Thew. âMany of Shounen’s works are united by a common thread of heroes pushing back entrenched power structures with their own individual strength and the support of their friends. “
Often times, these anime stories will devote almost as much screen time to training and strategy sessions as the big conflict itself, which makes victory, when it comes, feel good and truly won. , says Thew.
âAnd 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 attainable, especially with a good team by our side,â a- he declared.
Williams’ mother Nicolle first noticed that her son was very fond of anime soon after arriving at BYU in 2012.
Over time, it has become 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 pants, âsaid Nicolle. âYou would have thought he was in a Gucci outfit or something. He really started adopting his anime in the NFL.
Nicolle was at first disconcerted 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 art, mainly due to deeper messages of courage and overcoming the problems that arise. highlighted through the storylines.
âIt kind of gave him more insight that he can be who he wants to be and not conform to the world around him,â said Nicolle. âHe’s never been the type to really party and hang out with a lot of people. He’s a bit of himself and does whatever he wants to do, and I think that just gave him a little more motivation not to 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 games against the Denver Broncos and Arizona Cardinals.
Time away from the team has given him plenty of time to watch many of his favorite shows. And in his first comeback, he responded with 77 yards on 19 carries in a 20-16 loss to the Falcons.
âYeah, I watched so much, I was like ‘Maybe I should stop watching it so I can save a few shows to myself,’â Williams said of his time in quarantine. âBut, honestly, it kept me cool.
âThese are just things about the anime and the main goal of each one is not to give up, and that’s what we’re into. So everyone goes through life and adversity.â
Williams said he admired the character’s determination on the shows the most.
âThey never give up, and that’s what you have to take in real life,â added Williams. âSo when it’s time for your own anime, you’re going to go through some hardship. Just make sure that you keep fighting and your anime show is the best it can be, and that you never give up and keep fighting for what you want.