Former Alabama defensive tackle Jesse Williams displays his tattoos at the NFL scouting combine. / Robert Klemko, USA TODAY Sports
INDIANAPOLIS -- Why does Australian-born former Alabama defensive tackle Jesse Williams have the acronym YOLO (and other assorted artwork) tattooed on his face, neck and back of his head?
Because, of course, You Only Live Once.
Williams, an illustrated man if there ever was one, is likely to be picked late in the first round or early in the second in the NFL draft in April, but not before answering questions from NFL teams about his copious ink here at the scouting combine.
In interviews with teams this week, Williams says he has been asked about the flower tattoo that spans the back of his head, the smiley-face tattoo on his right earlobe, the scrawls of words of encouragement on his arms, the words "fear is a liar" on his scalp, and the teardrop-positioned symbols beneath his eyes, one reading "FTB."
"They usually ask how many I have and do they hurt," he said Saturday at the combine. "I haven't had any negative comments about them. A lot of them like them, so it's not too bad."
The term YOLO is some of his newest ink, done several weeks ago during an offseason visit to Australia. The term popularized in hip hop by Canadian rapper Drake is written on Williams' cheek next to his left ear. Williams doesn't think his ink choices will affect his draft stock in a class full of top-tier interior linemen -- especially after heavily tattooed quarterback Colin Kaepernick took the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl.
"I don't really think too highly of people who disagree with tattoos," he said. "It's pretty common nowadays. It's how people show their interior by displaying it on their exterior. For me, it's simple reminders about my family and what I come from. They mean a lot to me and get me through a lot of tough situations."
Williams, who was born in Brisbane, played rugby in his youth and started playing football at 15. He was recruited from the Australian junior national team to JUCO ollege Arizona Western, then Alabama. He won't be running at the combine after having offseason surgery to clean out his knee, but he believes he can beat the combine record of 51 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press, and wherever he's drafted, he plans on being a national icon.
"I'm sure whatever NFL team I go to will be Australia's favorite team from now on," he said.
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