Detroit Lions fans should be more concerned about Jack Campbell’s lighthearted lake antics than about Jameson Williams. Not that anyone should lose sleep over Campbell’s leisure time; the viral video showing him wake-surfing before his girlfriend tackled him into the water was harmless. It merely revealed an endearing peek into Campbell’s off-field life. Yet, it does pose more of an injury risk than anything Williams has done thus far.
It’s not a critique of Campbell, rather an illustration of how the media and fans unjustly scrutinize every Williams’ action.
Williams celebrated Fourth of July in a way many Americans do: by lighting off fireworks. When a video surfaced of the Lions’ second-year wide receiver lighting the firework, social media was quick to ignite with criticism. Remarks ranged from condescending advice like “leave it to the professionals, buddy,” to derogatory comments calling him “a dumbass,” and even drawing ill-intentioned parallels to the late Charles Rogers.
The narrative needs to shift.
Unwarranted Polarizing Player Tag
Williams has become a polarizing figure in the Lions’ landscape. It’s an undeserved reputation for the speedy receiver that Brad Holmes handpicked in the 2022 NFL draft. His late return in the 2022 season, following a significant ACL rehab, only amplified fans’ excitement with his electric on-field presence.
Unfortunately, Williams fell under the spotlight of the first large-scale player suspension due to gambling-related infractions. This occurred merely a year after Calvin Ridley’s season-long suspension for betting on an NFL game. In April, five NFL players, Williams included, faced varying suspension lengths for gambling. Unlike three of the players suspended indefinitely for betting on NFL games, Williams and former teammate Stanley Berryhill were sidelined for six games for participating in non-NFL mobile betting at a team facility.
His response to the penalty? A simple mark of maturity and focus. “They gave me six games and we left it at that,” Williams shared. “I’m just looking forward to coming back Week 7, getting back with my team out there and playing a game.”
Unjust Judgement of Jameson Williams
Let’s be clear: Williams has never bet on an NFL game. He has a clean record with the law. Since joining the Lions, one might even say he’s been a model citizen. Recently, he announced that he’ll be hosting a free skills position camp in Detroit on July 15.
Sure, he’s active on social media—what young person isn’t? Perhaps he could be more cautious about his posts’ optics, as his Instagram post from Las Vegas the day after his suspension wasn’t the best look. But remember, he’s a 22-year-old living in the public eye, not breaking the law or harming others.
When he lit fireworks late on the Fourth of July, fans and media seized another chance to pounce.
Let’s get real: If anyone was to be concerned with Williams’ celebration, it should be his neighbors and it should be about the time – 1:15 AM. Not the act itself.
It’s high time we shift our focus. Celebrate the talent and the joy Jameson Williams brings to the game, rather than magnifying his every action through a lens of hyper-criticism. He’s a young star in the making, and he deserves our support.
For more from our Detroit Lions beat writer, Matt Broder, check him out on Twitter here: @mattbro21
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Original Photo Credit: © David Reginek – USA TODAY Sports