Packers love Jamaal Williams for who he is

RB Jamaal Williams
RB Jamaal Williams

GREEN BAY – Allen Lazard has seen the locker-room videos of Jamaal Williams like everyone else.

Williams, with a wide grin occasionally accented with a gold grill, stands in front of a group of reporters and says how he feels – exactly how he feels, often using TV show and movie characters for quick comparison.

The 10-second soundbites have gone viral this year and provide a glimpse into the world of the Packers’ third-year running back, a 24/7 reminder to his teammates of what it means to have fun.

“He’s a character,” said Lazard, Green Bay’s first-year receiver. “That’s just him. People ask me about him all the time and I tell them that’s just the tip of the iceberg. You guys don’t see what happens when the doors close.”

Williams’ personality has been on full display since he arrived as a fourth-round pick out of BYU in 2017. He dances during practice, throws footballs with fans before games, and plays around with teammates and support staff in the locker room.

This year, the national media has become familiar with Williams for his off-the-wall quotes. On Aug. 18, prior to the Packers traveling to Winnipeg for a preseason game against Oakland, Williams expressed his excitement about his first trip abroad before adding one wish for the trip.

“I want to see a goose fly,” Williams said. “I want to see if there’s a difference. Do they have mutated goose? For some reason, I feel like it’s already cold. It’s like Alaska cold.”

After rushing for 59 yards during a rain-soaked Week 3 win over Denver at Lambeau Field, Williams told reporters his success had a lot to do with the soggy conditions.

“I love it all. I think the rain slows everybody else down,” Williams said. “I feel like a mermaid and then everyone else is like a dog swimming. I feel like I was fluent out there. … I feel like SpongeBob.”

That disposition didn’t change even after a scary hit early in the Packers’ Week 4 game against the Philadelphia Eagles that led to the 6-foot, 213-pound running back being carted off the field.

When fellow running back Aaron Jones visited Williams later that night in the hospital, he knew his close friend would be OK after the nurse came in for a checkup.

“He was Jamaal; himself, making jokes,” said Jones on Sept. 27. “The nurse was like, ‘Let me listen to your stomach,’ and he was like, ‘For what? So you can hear how empty it is?’”

Williams was back at it again before the Packers’ Week 11 bye. In the aftermath of the team’s 24-16 win over Carolina, Williams summed up his 13-carry, 63-yard performance on a snow-covered Lambeau Field as only he can.

“I felt great. I felt like I was in ‘Frozen,’ ‘Frozen 2,’” he said, before asking reporters if it was out yet. When informed it was not, he told the scrum how he couldn’t wait to go see the movie.

None of that changes when the cameras are turned off, either. Williams is the same guy with his friends. Known for his touchdown celebrations and pregame dancing, Williams taught Jones a series of dance routines when the two were in the dorms together at St. Norbert College during training camp.

While dancing isn’t really in Jones’ nature, Williams has pulled it out of him. That’s led to Jones joining in with Williams during practice and occasionally in games.

“Jamaal, you never know what you’re going to get. He keeps you on your toes,” Jones said. “His personality, he brings out everybody. When everybody is around him, you see smiles. You see laughing. You even see guys who don’t dance trying to start dancing and learning from him: Lucas (Patrick), he got A-Rod dancing a little bit. He brings a lot of juice.”

The two running backs, who are represented by the same agency, met during a Super Bowl LI party back in 2017 and roomed together during their first offseason in Green Bay.

When you pull back the layers, however, Jones feels he clicked so well with Williams because his jovial and gregarious nature reminds him quite a bit of his twin brother, Alvin Jr.

There’s a competitive side of that friendship, too. It’s not just always fun and games with Williams. In practice this week, Williams got on Jones after he jogged back from a run instead of finishing to the end zone like the two did on their previous carries.

In two-plus seasons together, Jones and Williams have combined for 4,296 total yards and 42 touchdowns.

“Jamaal’s one of my favorite teammates, man,” receiver Davante Adams said. “He’s what you need and really want in a teammate on a team like this – especially when you have a great running back who was drafted the same year as him. The unselfishness, and you can see how they vibe with each other, it’s kind of, it gives me chills sometimes when I look at them on the field because they have so much fun together and really relish and love each other’s success.”

That energy translates to the football field, as well. Even when the Packers were trailing late against the Los Angeles Chargers on Nov. 3, Williams stayed on his feet through the first would-be tackler on a screen pass to extend for seven yards and a first down on second-and-5.

While sharing the backfield with Jones, Williams is still having a career year with personal bests in average rushing yards (4.5), receiving touchdowns (five) and a career-long carry of 45 yards against Detroit last month.

If Williams scores, teammates know he’s going to be dancing.

“He makes it fun to show up to work every day,” fullback Danny Vitale said. “Obviously with the dancing, everybody sees the dancing. I remember my wife asking me, ‘Who’s the guy who’s always dancing?’ Oh, that’s Jamaal. He’s like that every single day, too. It’s not just like it’s a game-day thing or cameras on me. He’s like that every single day we’re out there.”

Lazard warms up next to Williams each day in practice. He hasn’t joined in on the dancing quite yet, but that energy permeates to those around the third-year running back.

The fun-loving nature is infectious during a long six-month season and what’s made Williams one of the most beloved players in Green Bay’s locker room.

Football is a difficult game, but it’s a fun one, too. If anyone ever needs a reminder not to take themselves too seriously, Williams is only a few toe-taps away.

“Just his personality and presence really uplifts our mood as an offense and a team,” Lazard said. “Even when things are going bad, you look to someone like him who’s always in a positive mood and always happy, always dancing and trying to have fun. It makes you step back and realize we’re playing a game that we’re very fortunate to play. We’re doing something that we love.”

Maybe Jamaal Williams more than anybody.

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