Jamaal Williams and Barry Sanders have different running styles, different backgrounds, and different lifestyles, but the two Detroit Lions running backs will be forever linked after Williams broke Sanders’ all-time franchise record last season with 17 touchdowns.
Williams, a big fan of anime and video games, said he recognized Sanders through the popular video game franchise NBA Street, and added that he’s honored to be mentioned in the same category as the NFL Hall-of-Famer.
“(I’m just) grateful just to be in that category with Barry, I mean Barry’s a great running back, so, I’ve been watching him on YouTube…
“You know anybody in video games that’s a legend…He’s a legend…So I’m just grateful for that opportunity, to be in there with somebody like that.”
If Jamaal Williams can score once more this season, he’ll tie Barry Sanders’ franchise TD record.
Williams said he has a lot of respect for Barry — not just Barry the football player, but also Barry the NFL Street legend. pic.twitter.com/HmuCRBa5i3
— Nolan Bianchi (@nolanbianchi) January 5, 2023
How Sanders and Williams’s Seasons Compare
Sanders originally set the Lions’ all-time rushing touchdowns mark in 1991, the year Detroit made it to the NFC Championship game.
His season stats were as follows: 15 games started and player, 342 rushes, 1,548 yards, and 16 touchdowns, for an average of 4.5 yards per carry. Sanders also had 307 yards receiving.
Williams’ 2022 stats were as follows: 17 games played and 9 games started, 262 rushes, 1,062 yards, and 17 touchdowns, for an average of 4.1 yards per carry. Williams also had 73 yards receiving.
All things considered, Sanders had the more impressive season, but Williams’s contributions should not be minimized.
He managed to surpass his more highly-touted teammate D’Andre Swift, while becoming the leader on and off the field the Lions needed to secure their first winning season since 2017.
Meanwhile, Williams has become a fan favorite, and it’s unlikely his rushing touchdowns record will be broken anytime soon.
Sanders Releases Congratulatory Message to Williams
Sanders earlier this month released a congratulatory message to Williams after he broke the record, in a video that has been viewed a few hundred thousand times.
“I just wanted to congratulate you on an awesome year, and for breaking my record, which was the most rushing touchdowns by a Detroit Lion in a single season,” Sanders says in the video shown below.
“Awesome job man, you’ve been a big part of the success this year, and I know you’re just getting started. Great job.”
— Lions PFN (@Lions_PFN) January 9, 2023
With offseason transactions looming, the big question is whether or not Williams will be re-signed, how much the Lions will offer him, and the price it would take to keep the record-setting, fan-favorite running back and emotional leader in Detroit.
For now, the Lions seem content to play the waiting game, basking in the afterglow of one of the team’s most exciting seasons in recent memory.