Metro Weekly

Trolls Hate on No. 1 NFL Draft Pick for Pink Phone and Nail Polish

USC quarterback Caleb Williams set social media abuzz after being seen with painted fingernails and a pink phone at a women's basketball game.

Caleb Williams – Photo: ESPN

Caleb Williams, the star quarterback for the University of Southern California and the projected No. 1 overall pick of the upcoming 2024 NFL draft, sparked controversy for wearing pink nail polish and chapstick, and sporting a pink phone and what appeared to be a matching wallet.

Williams was spotted in the stands during the March 25 USC women’s basketball game against the University of Kansas as part of “March Madness.” When the camera focused on him, waving his hands side to side as the Black Eyed Peas song “I Gotta Feeling” was playing, it caught a glimpse of his phone, which has a pink backing but a clear case, and a white wallet that appeared to be pink to some observers due to a camera reflection.

Some observers noted that Williams — who has been known to paint his nails, as he infamously did with an epithet before a key game against Notre Dame  — appeared to be wearing pink nail polish and had shiny lips, leading them to claim that he was wearing pink lip gloss or lipstick.

The NCAA Division I women’s basketball X account shared the video of Williams, who reposted it, writing, “Vibes onlyyyyy supporting our girls.”


Anti-LGBTQ trolls immediately began feigning outrage over his look, accusing him of being gay, gender-nonconforming, and pushing a social agenda. Others were angered over his visibility, arguing that it was not acceptable to appear to wear pink, a color stereotypically associated with women and that doing so was “gross.”

“OMG, the Chicago Bears are finally in a position to draft a franchise quarterback, and Caleb Williams is a Dylan Mulvaney wannabe. Complete with pink finger nails, lip gloss, and phone!” screeched one X user. 

Williams, who is considered a generational talent, is expected to be selected first overall by the Chicago Bears football team on April 25, with the hope that he will help the struggling franchise overcome its middling 7-10 record. In the run-up to the draft, the Bears have sought to bolster their offensive line, and, most notably, traded with the Los Angeles Chargers to pick up Keenan Allen, one of the NFL’s top veteran receivers — all signs that they are likely to select a quarterback with their first of two first-round picks.

But Williams’s alleged gender-nonconformity was a bridge too far for some observers.

“The Bears couldn’t pick a worse ‘fit’ for the team or city. He would be my last QB pick! Been a fan my entire life and have no problem leaving my support. It’s clear the Bears have zero desire to actually built a team to try to compete. My last straw,” wrote a user on X. 

And this a guy who is supposed to lead men? Good luck Bears,” wrote another user, adding a crying while laughing emoji.

“Nobody player is going to want to shower next to him. They better not drop the soap,” wrote another.

“Gayleb Williams & Michael Sam spreading their gayness across the NFL,” a user wrote, referring to Sam, who in 2014, became the first out gay player to ever be drafted by an NFL team. He later left the league after failing to make the final 53-man roster of both the then-St. Louis Rams, who drafted him, and the Dallas Cowboys.

As reported by Sports Illustrated, former Dallas Cowboys and Buffalo Bills receiver Cole Beasley also felt the need to weigh in, issuing a rant in which he appeared to link Williams’s nail-painting habits to LGBTQ identity, and LGBTQ identity to pedophilia.

“Yo, it’d be different if we weren’t living in a world that is trying to make it ok for a boy to just be a girl all the sudden. Or a cat or a dog. In a world where they are trying to normalize pedophilia. Handing out awards for courage for pretending to be something you’re not,” Beasley complained. “I’m trying to raise kids in a world that is getting more confusing every day. Do what you want but stop promoting the shit like it’s admirable.”


Several people — not all of them LGBTQ-friendly — clapped back at those speculating about Williams’s sexuality. 

“Big freaking deal ! I wear pink all the time . And there’s actual gangs in Chicago where they colors is pink! He being himself and that’s all that matters. No one will care when he starts throwing for 4000 yards a season for da bears,” wrote one X user.

“least he comfortable in his own skin and confident jokes aside,” wrote another.

Others noted that the city of Chicago and its sports fans overwhelmingly embraced former NBA player Dennis Rodman — known in the ’90s for his gender-bending fashion sense off the basketball court — when he played for the Chicago Bulls and was part of the team that won three national championships.

“Three championships with this fruit cake do you think anybody gave a flying fish sandwich hell no just win championships everything else is BS,” wrote one user, including a picture of Rodman with rainbow-colored hair. 

“Caleb Williams has handled making millions in one of the largest media markets in the country (basically as a practical wonderlic test) and the biggest issue you can find is that he paints his nails?” wrote Fox Sports reporter Carmen Vitali, referring to reports that Williams has made up to $10 million in NIL (name, image, likeness) money and endorsements during his college career. 

Vitali also shared a video clip of her commenting on the controversy on a podcast, adding, “Chicago embraced Dennis Rodman in the 90s. They can embrace Williams in 2024.”


Williams, a former Heisman Trophy winner — an award given annually to the most outstanding player in collegiate football — also received support from Baltimore Ravens quarterback Robert Griffin III.

“Let Caleb Williams be Caleb Williams. Ain’t nothing wrong with him wearing pink fingernail polish and having a pink phone case. Quite frankly, if he goes to Chicago then Bears fans should be rocking whatever he is. Stop the hate and accept him for who he is,” Griffin wrote on X.

As first reported by People magazine, Williams issued a tongue-in-cheek clapback on social media against people disparaging him. In a short video clip, Gavin Morris, USC’s assistant athletic director, jokes to Williams, “It’s been a long week for you.”

“Let’s see what that phone look like, what the phone look like?” Morris said.

“The wallet’s white,” Williams responded, holding up his wallet for the camera. “The phone is pink, the case is clear.”

He then held up his hands to the camera, adding, “Nails are clear. Lips? Lips are pink. Your girl love ’em,” as Morris laughs.

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