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Southern California quarterback Caleb Williams has been the consensus No. 1 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft for years and has been labeled a generational prospect. However, his unique form of self-expression, including painted nails and a pink phone, has brought out doubters who question his ability to succeed in the NFL. Williams has been using his nails as a form of expression for years, including winning the Heisman Trophy in the 2022-23 college football season. Despite backlash, he continues to honor his mother who is a nail technician by decorating his nails.

Athletes like Ricky Williams and Dennis Rodman have also expressed themselves in unique ways without affecting their professional success. Ricky Williams famously wore a wedding dress in a photo shoot, while Dennis Rodman’s unconventional appearance didn’t prevent him from playing a key role in the Chicago Bulls dynasty. Williams’ painted nails are meant to honor his mother, and his familial bond is sacred in NFL circles. Fashion trends constantly change, and unique forms of expression are now common in the league.

Critics of Williams using his nails as a means to detract from his talent are misguided. While it’s fair to criticize his performance against top-tier competition or his skill on the field, targeting his personal expression is irrelevant to his abilities as a quarterback. Using non-football-based arguments to argue against drafting Williams at No. 1 overall, such as his painted nails or pink phone, is baseless and akin to criticizing Patrick Mahomes in 2017 for liking ketchup too much. Williams’ painted nails and pink phone should not be used as reasons to doubt his potential success in the NFL.

Williams’ form of self-expression should not be a factor in evaluating his talent as a quarterback, as it is a personal choice and does not impact his abilities on the field. Like other athletes who have expressed themselves in unique ways, Williams should be judged based on his performance and skills as a player, rather than his appearance or personal style. Criticizing Williams for his painted nails or pink phone is unfair and distracting from his potential as a top prospect in the 2024 NFL Draft. Ultimately, Williams’ success should be based on his performance on the field, not on superficial factors like his appearance.

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