The NFL’s DeMarcus Lawrence drafts his anime football dream team

The NFL’s DeMarcus Lawrence drafts his anime football dream team

From the Green Bay Packers’ Jamaal Williams and the Seattle Seahawks’ John Reid to the New Orleans Saints’ Cameron Jordan and more, the NFL is packed with players who are just as passionate about anime and manga as they are about football.

DeMarcus Lawrence, defensive end for the Dallas Cowboys and four-time Pro Bowl champion, is easily one of the most enthusiastic fans out there, having designed a pair of custom anime-inspired cleats and even having served as a presenter at this year’s Crunchyroll Anime Awards.

Polygon had the opportunity to sit down with Lawrence out of Japan to discuss his love of anime, where he singled out Mushoku Tensei Jobless Reincarnation as the series he’s enjoyed the most recently. To Lawrence, the anime (based on the light novel series by Rifujin na Magonote and illustrator Shirotaka) resonated with his own experience aspiring to become a professional football player. Mushoku Tensei Jobless Reincarnation focuses on the character Rudeus, who dies in the first episode of the series and gets a second chance at life when he’s unexpectedly reincarnated in the body of a baby. That hit home for the athlete.

“Just the concept of getting another chance at life,” Lawrence said. “You know, I feel like when I was 13, my Lord and Savior Jesus gave me an opportunity by showing me how to navigate life and pursue my dreams, so that’s why it resonates with me.”

But which anime characters would he draft into the NFL? Lawrence had an immediate vision for his fantasy team: Goku and Vegeta.

Goku and Vegeta clashing in battle in a blue and purple forest in Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero. Image: Toei Animation/Sony Pictures Releasing

“I’mma go with my Dragon Ball Z guys, first and foremost, because we’re gonna need those Super Saiyan powers in the fourth quarter. So, Goku at quarterback, Vegeta at middle linebacker.”

One could easily imagine the entire Dragon Ball crew dominating in football, but Lawrence sought other talent pools to fill out his bench.

“Yuji Itadori [from Jujutsu Kaisen] at wide receiver. Gabimaru [from Hell’s Paradise] at the other wide receiver, and Baki Hanma [from Baki Hanma] as running back.”

It’s difficult to argue with the sheer intimidating strength of his picks. When asked if he would go toe-to-toe against his own team, Lawrence laughed and said, “Nah, I wouldn’t line up out there!”