No one around campus at the University of Arkansas is happy to just run into Green Bay Packers tight end D.J. Williams anymore. These days, it’s all about the photo-bombing, life-of-the-party stuffed teddy bear that accompanies Williams wherever he goes.
It’s all about Ted.
“Everyone I talk to is more interested in the teddy bear than talking to me,” Williams told FOXSportsWisconsin.com. “I go out now and everyone keeps asking, ‘Where’s Ted? Where’s the bear?’ He’s been a huge hit.”
When Williams goes out to dinner in his college town, Ted sits with the group at the restaurant table. When Williams goes out for a drink, Ted joins him at the bar. When Williams goes to the gym to lift weights, Ted is spotting him on his bench press.
OK, so the name isn’t very creative. Don’t blame Williams, though. It was his friend Josh who was in charge of naming rights. Inspired by the Seth MacFarlane-created character of the summer movie hit “Ted,” Williams now has one of his very own. Well, Williams’ version of Ted doesn’t talk and (likely) isn’t afraid of thunder, but it’s the same idea.
It started when Williams and his friends in Fayetteville, Ark., were throwing a birthday party for Josh. Williams rented a hotel suite and purchased as many random items as possible, from streamers to Fruit Roll-Ups. That’s when he saw the bear that would eventually become known as Ted.
“I said, ‘I have to get this teddy bear!’ said Williams, who has spent his first two seasons as a backup. “I had no idea where it’d end up after a long Saturday night, but I haven’t lost him yet.”
Since Ted’s debut that night, Williams has posted an impressive collection of pictures on Twitter featuring his group’s newest and most popular member.
“I’ll have some people come up to me and say, ‘You think just because you’re D.J. Williams that you can bring this bear and have all this attention,'” Williams said. “To be honest, NFL or no NFL, I think it’d be hilarious to have a bear photobomb like this. If we bring him out, he gets passed around and it’s just unbelievable.”
After a few weeks, Williams decided that Ted needed a non-human friend. Waiting in a Walgreens checkout line, Williams saw turtle chocolate bars for sale. The problem is that Williams has been avoiding sweets in order to keep a good offseason weight. That’s when the cashier, after unsuccessfully trying to sell him turtle chocolate, pitched him on the idea of buying a toy turtle. Williams took one look at it and the sale was made.
“We sat down and had to name this thing, and Clarence was the first thing to pop in my head,” Williams said. “He looked like a Clarence.”
According to Williams, Clarence is starting to reach Ted’s level of popularity around Fayetteville.
However, at least for now, it’s the pictures of Ted that are unforgettable. Williams’ favorites are the weight-lifting pictures, where he and Ted were each other’s spotters.
“Some guy online said I’m not serious about what I do because I’m always out with Ted,” Williams said. “It was not great literature, but he was giving me a hard time, said I’m not taking the offseason serious and that I’m just picking up chicks. But I work out early in the morning into the afternoon. I showed that by bringing Ted with me to the weight room.
“It’s the offseason; I have fun and I like hanging out here (in Fayetteville) instead of leaving the country like some guys.”
When the offseason is over and Williams reports back to Green Bay, he’s undecided whether Ted will join him.
“I don’t know if I can be hounded by guys in the locker room for having a teddy bear with me,” Williams said. “I don’t know, though, because it would be cool if he showed up to Packers games in the stands.”
But, before he scouts potential locations of seats at Lambeau Field, Williams has one more big trip planned for Ted.
“I’m thinking about taking Ted to his environment, back in the woods, where bears belong,” Williams said. “We’ll see what we could come up with.”