Odell Beckham Jr. will soon be wearing a new uniform, but some of his peers are keeping the “Free Odell” movement alive anyway.
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson wore a hoodie during warmups on Sunday that said “FREE ODELL” and included a portrait of Beckham.
Beckham and Jefferson both played college ball at LSU. Jefferson was actually involved in the drama when OBJ handed out stacks of cash to LSU players after the national championship game two years ago.
Vikings cornerback Cam Dantzler, who grew up with Beckham in Louisiana, wore the same shirt:
The real question is whether Jefferson and Dantzler would have worn those shirts even if the Cleveland Browns did not agree to part ways with Beckham. That would have been an even stronger message, but we’ll probably never know.
Beckham and the Browns agreed to a divorce after Beckham’s father, Odell Beckham Sr., had some social media posts criticizing Baker Mayfield. LeBron James also found a way to join the “Free Odell” movement.
Beckham will be placed on waivers on Monday. He reportedly wants to play for a contender and may cause problems if he doesn’t wind up with one.
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson had himself a phenomenal rookie season last year, and the former LSU star is looking forward to even bigger challenges in 2021.
Jefferson was a guest on the “All Things Covered” podcast this week, and he was asked if there is one cornerback he hasn’t faced yet that he is looking forward to lining up against. Without hesitation, Jefferson said he is already thinking about facing Jalen Ramsey.
The Vikings don’t play the Los Angeles Rams until Week 16, which is in late December. Jefferson probably shouldn’t look too far ahead, but Minnesota fans have to love that he is embracing the opportunity to compete with the best.
Ramsey is still widely considered to be one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL, even if he was ruthlessly mocked for getting torched by a rookie last season. Jefferson had 88 catches for 1,400 yards and seven touchdowns last year. The matchup will certainly be one to watch.
Justin Jefferson watched his signature touchdown celebration rapidly gain popularity during his breakout rookie season in 2020, and the dance will now be featured in a prominent video game.
Epic Games announced on Monday that Jefferson’s “Griddy” dance will be featured in “Fortnite” beginning Wednesday. As ESPN’s Adam Schefter notes, Jefferson will be the first NFL player to be featured in the popular video game.
The NFL entered a partnership with Epic Games, the developer of “Fortnite,” back in 2018. The deal allows the game to feature logos from all 32 teams on the gear that characters wear.
Jefferson began doing the “Griddy” dance when he became a star at LSU, though he is not the inventor of it. The dance was created by Allen “Griddy” Davis in the weight room of Landry Walker High School in New Orleans in 2017. It eventually went viral on social media, and Jefferson first did it in a game at LSU in 2019.
Many NFL players and pro athletes are avid “Fortnite” players. One MLB player even once had to apologize for something he said about his manager while playing the game. Jefferson’s inclusion in “Fortnite” may lead to some jealousy among his peers.
Jefferson, the No. 22 overall pick in last year’s draft, made the Pro Bowl as a rookie last year. His 1,400 receiving yards ranked fourth in the NFL.
The 2020 NFL Draft was a completely different TV experience from what fans previously were used to. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there was no central gathering for the draft. Instead, TV cameras were placed inside the homes of team employees and players. The result was a more intimate viewing experience for the fans, such as one we saw among the Minnesota Vikings.
As Pro Football Focus reminded people on Twitter Tuesday, some Vikings higher-ups (GM Rick Spielman and coach Mike Zimmer) laughed at the Philadelphia Eagles for passing on Justin Jefferson with the No. 21 overall pick last year. Instead of Jefferson, they chose a different receiver — Jalen Reagor.
The Vikings were right, at least for one year.
Reagor had 31 catches for 396 yards and a touchdown in 11 games last season. Jefferson had 88 catches for 1,400 yards and seven touchdowns as a rookie.
Six receivers were taken in the first round last year. Seven more went in the second round. It remains to be seen how all of their careers go, but for now, the Vikings seemed to nail the rankings. They definitely got it right with Jefferson.
Justin Jefferson did not win AP Offensive Rookie of the Year this season and took note.
Justin Herbert won the award. The Los Angeles Chargers rookie quarterback received 41 of the 50 possible votes. Jefferson received the nine other votes.
The Minnesota Vikings wide receiver sent two smirking emojis and said “see ya next season.”
Jefferson had a huge season. He had 88 catches for 1,400 yards and seven touchdowns. But more voters were impressed with what Herbert did for the 7-9 Chargers. The 22-year-old quarterback passed for 4,336 yards and 31 touchdowns. Both marks set the rookie quarterback record.
Jefferson received plenty of recognition from his peers. Even if he didn’t win the award, few doubt his talent.
It’s not every day that players get to break records set by Randy Moss. Justin Jefferson did it on Sunday, and he wants Moss to help him remember the occasion.
The Minnesota Vikings rookie needed 111 receiving yards in Week 17 to break Moss’ rookie record for receiving yards in a season, which he did in the fourth quarter. Jefferson also broke the Vikings’ franchise record in the same category, which was set by Moss in 1998. Jefferson even wore special cleats paying tribute to Moss while accomplishing the feat.
After the game, Jefferson said it was an “honor” and a “blessing” to break a record held by Moss, and said he wanted the iconic receiver to sign his cleats.
The significance of breaking a Moss franchise record is not lost on Jefferson. It certainly looks like the Vikings have a star for years to come. The organization will hope Jefferson can keep emulating the legend, though maybe with a bit less yelling at his quarterback.
Marshon Lattimore responded on Twitter Friday after a Minnesota Vikings reporter called him out for dancing.
Lattimore was covering Vikings emerging rookie receiver Justin Jefferson during Friday’s 52-33 win by the New Orleans Saints. Jefferson had six catches for 85 yards in the loss. In the final two minutes of the game, Jefferson went down with an injury and exited after an incompletion on a 3rd-and-10 play.
Star Tribune columnist Jim Souhan took issue with Lattimore mimicking Jefferson’s dance as Jefferson walked off the field with what appeared to be an injury.
Souhan felt Lattimore’s actions lacked class.
Lattimore saw the criticism and responded on Twitter. He told Souhan to “shut up.” Though the lack of punctuation in his tweet made it somewhat confusing to read, Lattimore seemed to be calling the criticism “lame.” He also defended himself by saying that Jefferson wasn’t injured, but merely cramping.
Lattimore’s team got the victory, so they also get the last laugh. But this sort of thing isn’t new for Lattimore, who takes great enjoyment in his successes on the field and often rubs it in.
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson had a moment of frustration with his quarterback on Sunday that he feels was being blown out of proportion.
A field microphone picked up Jefferson yelling at Kirk Cousins to “throw the ball,” complete with an expletive, after the quarterback was chased out of the pocket near the end zone in Sunday’s loss to Chicago. You can see that video here, but be warned, there is strong language.
After the game, Jefferson shrugged off the incident, defending himself and making clear that there was no big issue.
“Y’all love blowing stuff out off proportion,” Jefferson wrote on Twitter. “And I ain’t no diva don’t get it twisted.”
It’s been a bad season for Cousins, who has had to answer questions about his consistency. There wasn’t really a lot the quarterback could’ve done here. Ultimately, these guys are competitors, and heated moments like this are going to happen. They just usually don’t get picked up that clearly on television.
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson has made an immediate impact in the NFL as a rookie, and he has caught the attention of at least one opposing player who is almost certainly headed to the Hall of Fame someday.
On his Pro Football Focus podcast with NBC’s Cris Collinsworth this week, San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman had extremely high praise for Jefferson. He said the former LSU star has looked like anything but a rookie in his first NFL season.
“I can’t think of a comparison,” Sherman said. “He’s very unique in his route-running. I think if you put some Marvin Jones, some Allen Robinson in there … He’s very veteran, even his slants he’s able to put a little extra wiggle in the short amount of time you have to run those routes.
“That’s what is making it really difficult for defenders is because he’s a rookie and he’s playing like he’s a five- or six-year veteran. He’s not only taking advantage of the opportunity but showing all the people who thought he was just a slot receiver, thought he wasn’t a great route-runner — he’s putting on a clinic week in and week out.”
Sherman is one of the most notorious trash talkers in the NFL, so compliments from him mean something. He’s quick to knock receivers down a peg if he feels they’re overrated, but he believes Jefferson has already shown enough in just nine NFL games.
Jefferson’s 762 receiving yards rank seventh in the NFL, and just 70 of those came in the first two weeks combined. His 18.1 yards per reception are good for fourth in the NFL.
There’s no questioning Jefferson’s talent and explosive ability, and his hunger for greatness is clearly there.
“My dream is to be a Hall of Famer, being one of the best receivers at this position,” Jefferson told reporters this week, via Andrew Krammer of The Star Tribune. “I’ve just got a long way to go. This is my first year, first couple games of my career. Just got to keep learning, just keep buying into the system.”
Jefferson became a household name with his record-breaking performance in the College Football Playoff last year, but some still wondered if his game would translate to the NFL. It only took him half a season to answer those questions.
It’s a great draft for teams looking for potential high-end wide receiver talent. There are three headline receivers who could go in the top 15 picks of the draft, and it is possible that four or even five are in contention to be first-round picks. With that level of talent, there’s a lot of depth at the position, which is great news for teams in need of offense.
Here are our picks for the five best receiver prospects in the 2020 draft.