Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell expressed unhappiness this week about the number of illegal hits that wide receiver Justin Jefferson has taken this season and shared his feeling that “they don’t just seem to be by accident.”
Jefferson weighed in on the topic on Wednesday and he appears to have the same view as his coach. Jefferson cited an example from the NBA to support his belief that the hits are a deliberate strategy to keep him from putting up big numbers.
“It’s just like Michael Jordan and the Detroit Pistons,” Jefferson said, via Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press. “They try to take out the best player. Try to put as much physical abuse that they can on him. Those defenses . . . they try whatever it takes for me not to get those big plays.”
Colts cornerback Stephon Gilmore was penalized for a hit on Jefferson in last Saturday’s game and the wideout said he took particular issue with that blow.
“I didn’t really feel that it was a clean hit,” Jefferson said. “I mean him lifting up and going (to) tackle me high I felt like it was a little dirty hit. That’s kind of why I really got angry. I’m glad that I was OK.”
Gilmore was penalized and the Vikings lost Jefferson for a portion of the game so he could be checked for a concussion. That’s a trade teams might be willing to make if it keeps Jefferson or other highly productive wideouts from putting points on the board while defensive players remain in the game.