Lions nominate Jamaal Williams for Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News

Allen Park — As his media sessions have shown, there's nothing conventional about Detroit Lions running back Jamaal Williams.

The question-answer format with Williams quickly breaks down into a stream-of-conscious riffing with reporters, like a comedian working a crowd. While the football stuff eventually gets addressed, Williams' off-the-wall personality keeps the room on its toes and provides a reminder that football is a game and is meant to be fun. 

Lions running back Jamaal Williams hits the hole made by the offensive linemen on a run in the third quarter.

Those are the snapshots the public sees, but that's who Williams is all the time. He brings that same joy and levity to the practice field and games. When he's mic'd up, you never know exactly what you're going to get — like when he pretended to be a dinosaur during training camp — but the infectious energy is welcomed by teammates, coaches and opponents alike. 

On Thursday, the team found a way to honor Williams' personality, nominating him for the NFL's 2021 Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award. Created in 2014, the award recognizes players around the league who exemplify on-field sportsmanship, including fair play, respect for the game and opponents, and integrity in competition.

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A panel of former players — Warrick Dunn, Larry Fitzgerald, Curtis Martin and Leonard Wheeler — will narrow the 32 nominees to eight finalists, four from each conference, and the league's players will vote on a winner as part of their Pro Bowl balloting. 

Detroit's previous nominees for the award include Frank Ragnow, Matthew Stafford, Don Muhlbach, Haloti Ngata, Glover Quin and Calvin Johnson.

jdrogers@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @Justin_Rogers