A few days after shredding the Packers defense, Vikings running back Dalvin Cook hopped on a Zoom call with reporters and introduced the world to an unfamiliar phrase.
"We just run yards like Swiss chard," Cook said.
Vikings beat writer Ben Goessling described the interaction like this in his story: Cook invoked the leafy vegetable twice Wednesday to describe the Vikings' running game, with a catchphrase that seemed to go over the heads of the reporters who heard it. No matter; his point was made.
In the online version of the story, Star Tribune editors included a link to explain to readers exactly what Swiss chard is. (Short version: a spinach-like vegetable that grows and spreads quite easily).
Maybe Dalvin was intimating that his yards were multiplying quickly and uncontrollably, like chard?
Or … maybe we now know the truth. It was all part of an elaborate and amusing Jimmy Fallon prank.
In a joke segment called "Drop it in," the Tonight Show host asks athletes to work in strange phrases during interviews. He's done it before with baseball players and tennis stars.
Cook's "swiss chard" line was part of a series of bizarre phrases that NFL players worked in on behalf of the show. (Aside: As someone who used to slip obscure words into stories as a gift to friends, I am all for this gag).
Among the other highlights:
*Kansas City tight end Travis Kelce calling Andy Reid a "rollercoaster tycoon," which again had reporters befuddled when it originally appeared in late September.
*Tampa Bay tight end Rob Gronkowski using the phrase, "Must be maple syrup because butter don't drizzle like that," attributed to his mom. He was forced to clarify, which was even funnier.
*Rams corner Jalen Ramsey saying, "Sometimes you gotta throw the sauce at your boss."
You can see smiles on the edges of a lot of players' lips. Cook deserves quite a bit of credit for playing it as straight as he did.
And maybe reporters will be on the lookout in the future.
The next time Cook slips in a nonsensical but amusing phrase, we'll know to just leaf it alone.