Detroit Lions running back Jamaal Williams is making headlines for his enduring love for anime, and he’s not shy about explaining why. “Anime is basically just art that’s in cartoon mode. It’s still in the series. There’s some anime, it’s crazy. That’s literally just for adults,” Williams said. “But for me, I get more principles and morals from them. I get the principles of like I gave the example of Naruto.”
Williams went on to talk about the profound impact that Naruto has had on him, citing the character as an inspiration for staying true to one’s course and not becoming evil. “End of the day in order to want it to be president of the village and let people know that he’s not a monster. He’s literally a genuine, nice person who just wants to help other people out,” Williams said.
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Williams’ passion for anime extends beyond just watching it; he has also incorporated it into his public persona. During one memorable introduction, he called himself “1st Swagg Kazekage,” referencing the ruler of the Village Hidden by the Sand from Naruto. His Twitter handle is also @jswaggdaddy, referencing another anime character.
“When people bring anime stuff, I know they understand me as a person; they don’t just see me as a football player. Bring me some stuff, and I give you stuff,” Williams said. He has even asked fans to bring him anime stuff and has offered to exchange some of his own collectibles with them.
Despite being a football player, Williams has made it clear that anime is an important part of his life. “I think people are finally starting to realize that there’s more to football players than just football,” Williams said. “I feel like I’m a perfect example of that.”
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It seems that Williams’ love for anime is not unique, as the art form is finding growing acceptance in the NFL community. One of the most memorable anime videos was produced by the Los Angeles Chargers when revealing their playing schedule for last season. “Anime is just one of those things that people are starting to get into and they’re starting to realize it’s not just for kids,” Williams said. “It’s for everybody.”