Trappings of success keep piling up for 21-year-old Vikings star receiver Justin Jefferson, who saw his rookie-year gloves and jersey displayed in the Pro Football Hall of Fame this offseason. Then the dance he made famous, "The Griddy," recently became featured in the globally popular video game Fortnite.
But Jefferson, who set a Super Bowl-era record with 1,400 receiving yards as a rookie, is hoping to exceed lofty expectations once again in 2021.
"There's a lot of stuff I need to fix," Jefferson said Tuesday. "Definitely don't want to put bad film on tape. Just got to keep improving on my game, trying to be versatile — trying to do some inside and outside [alignments] — just trying to learn from whoever I can. Just been watching some of the best receivers in the league and trying to learn from them and pick up some new moves."
One of the receivers Jefferson is studying is the Packers' Davante Adams, whom he's teaming up with on behalf of Optimum Nutrition's "Building Better Lives" initiative. Jefferson spoke Tuesday on behalf of the programs that will offer free online fitness and wellness advice, as well as events in underserved communities such as Jefferson's hometown of St. Rose, La., and Adams' hometown of East Palo Alto, Calif.
"I had so many resources, so many different people helping me out," Jefferson said. "To give back to them now and share this opportunity with them is really a dream come true."
Jefferson's athletic talents were forged on the basketball court in his backyard and the grassy lot next door, where the youngest of three Jefferson boys first competed above his weight class. Now he's reunited on the Vikings roster with former LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson, a family friend who played with Justin's older brother, Jordan, at Death Valley. Peterson, a three-time All-Pro selection, signed a one-year deal with the Vikings in March.
"I have so many memories," Jefferson said. "To have him on the team and other players come on that defensive side, what we really needed last year, I'm excited for this season. I feel like we have a good chance of making it to the playoffs and going far. Hopefully getting a Super Bowl."
The Vikings' passing attack will go as far as Jefferson can take it. His offseason film sessions have revolved around studying nuances of top NFL receivers such as Adams, as well as fellow LSU star Odell Beckham Jr. and the Chargers' Keenan Allen.
"Been watching Davante Adams a lot, he's one of my favorite receivers," Jefferson said. "They have some fancy footwork and nice moves they put on their routes. Definitely trying to steal some of their moves and add it on to mine."
Jefferson also got an early read on new Vikings quarterback Kellen Mond, whom he caught passes from in March — more than a month before Mond became a third-round pick to Minnesota — while they were among many players working out at the House of Athlete in Weston, Fla.
"Now he's on the same team as me," Jefferson said. "That was a funny thing that happened. I feel like he's going to be a good player for this team. I feel like we can use him. He has a very strong arm and he can also throw some dimes. I think he'll be a great addition to this team."
Jefferson's next step will bring him back to Minnesota, where the Vikings are scheduled to begin on-field voluntary workouts on Monday. While the NFL and NFL Players Association are in a standoff over voluntary in-person workouts, Jefferson said he's under the assumption "most" of his teammates will report to the team's Eagan headquarters next week.
But Vikings players became the 20th NFL team last month to say "many of us" won't attend voluntary workouts, via a statement through the players union, which has advised players not to attend their team's voluntary sessions because of concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.
"Most of the guys on the team are attending," Jefferson said. "We all thought it would be a good idea to get a quick start and to really build that connection again. I feel like we have the talent on this team and the coaches and everybody to go far in this season.
"I'm excited to go back to Minnesota and get back to work."