Lions rookie wide receiver Jameson Williams switched the jersey number he’ll wear, and it’s a noteworthy number in recent team history.
Jameson Williams originally chose No. 18 upon being drafted by the Detroit Lions, as a nod to Hall of Famer (and eventual mentor?) Calvin Johnson, who wore No. 81 for the team, and Randy Moss, his favorite receiver. Moss wore No 18 when he played for the Oakland Raiders.
Whenever he’s able to make his NFL debut, as he works his way back from a torn ACL, No. 18 felt like a nice fit for Williams. But he also didn’t sound too committed to it.
Here’s a quote from Williams, regarding sticking with No. 18 at one point, via MLive:
"I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t think so. I don’t know.”"
The Lions’ rookie receiver, according to ESPN’s Eric Woodyard, apparently still wanted a single-digit number. He originally wanted No.1, which belongs to cornerback Jeff Okudah.
Williams, as he first posted on Instagram, has switched to No. 9.
Of course No. 9 is a notable number in Lions history, and recent history at that. Quarterback Matthew Stafford wore the number in Detroit for 12 seasons, on his way to the top of the Lions’ all-time passing charts.
Jameson Williams reached out to get Matthew Stafford’s blessing to wear No. 9 for the Lions
Per Woodyard, Williams reached out to Stafford via text to get the former Lions’ signal caller’s blessing to wear No. 9 for the Lions.
"Lions rookie Jameson Williams has officially switched his jersey to No. 9 — Matthew Stafford’s old Detroit number. He was looking for a single digit number and actually reached out to Stafford on his own via text as an act of courtesy, according to a source. Classy move."
There were a lot of No. 9 jerseys in the stands at Ford Field last year, as suddenly outdated Stafford jerseys lingered in the fanbase (and surely still will). Now a new version, with Williams’ name on the back instead, will mean even more No. 9 Lions’ jerseys in the stands.
Williams could change his number again down the road in his career, and it would be fitting. No. 9 will eventually be retired by the Lions, in Stafford’s honor and ideally his honor alone. It was a class move by the rookie to reach out to get Stafford’s blessing to wear the number.