Public Enemy No. 1 for Vikings Has Gone Dirty Again

Detroit Lions safety Kerby Joseph (31) celebrates a play against the L.A. Rams during the second half of the NFL wild-card playoff game at Ford Field in Detroit on Sunday, Jan, 14, 2024. © Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK

There’s a theme.

Detroit Lions safety Kerby Joseph injured Minnesota Vikings tight T.J. Hockenson about three weeks ago on a tackle at the knees, ending Hockenson’s season and perhaps prohibiting the 26-year-old from joining the Vikings when the 2024 season kicks off.

Public Enemy No. 1 for Vikings Has Gone Dirty Again

Vikings fans bemoaned Joseph’s hit, calling it dirty and specifically aimed at a player’s knees.

Public Enemy
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Then on Sunday, in the postseason’s Divisional Round, Joseph did it again. This time, he aimed for Los Angeles Rams tight end Tyler Higbee’s knees and, wouldn’t you know it, knocked him out of the game, too.

Here’s the play on Higbee:

And the hit on Hockenson from Christmas Eve:

Joseph’s Lions held on for their first playoff win in three decades, chipping off the Rams in a 24-23 squeaker and capping a so-far Cinderella story that most NFL fans adore.

Detroit Lions safety Kerby Joseph celebrates a play against the Green Bay Packers during the second half at Ford Field in Detroit on Thursday, Nov. 23, 2023. © Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter updated Higbee’s status late Sunday night, “Rams believe TE Tyler Higbee tore his ACL after absorbing a low hit from Detroit safety Kerby Joseph, per sources. There will be additional testing to confirm the initial diagnosis.”

So, if you’re keeping score at home, that’s likely two tight ends’ ACLs in three weeks. After the game, Joseph used the X app to blame football as a sport — not himself — for the injury, “ALL SERIOUSNESS…. THIS GAME WE PLAY IS VERY DANGEROUS…. I’m praying for bro and his family I don’t have no intention to hurt no body and or harm their career I been a mf dog since I came out my mama womb and nun of y’all on here gone take that away from me.”

He also added shortly after, “And all y’all talking crazy on here… GOD SEES AND HEARS ALL ! I WOULDNT WISH THAT ON MY WORSE ENEMY.”

Detroit Lions safety Kerby Joseph (31)waves at fans after Lions’ 26-14 win over Las Vegas Raiders at Ford Field in Detroit on Monday, Oct. 30, 2023. © Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK.

It appears Joseph actually targets players’ vulnerable areas or is just the unluckiest-but-also-sympathetic defender in the league. No other NFL player in 2023 has such a knee-wrecking reputation. Only Joseph.

Joseph said about his style of play in 2022, “You want the ball, you got a pay a price, you feel me? Ain’t nothing free out here, especially if you come to me. Just gotta keep making plays.”

The 23-year-old entered the NFL in 2022 as a 3rd-round Pick and has played 35 games since. This season, he ranked as the league’s 14th-worst safety per Pro Football Focus, tabulating a 56.5 grade, or 86th of 99 qualifying players at his position.

Detroit Lions safety Kerby Joseph high-fives teammates during warmups before the game vs. the Carolina Panthers at Ford Field on Sunday, Oct. 8, 2023. © Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK.

“If you’re coming in my areas, you’re going to pay the price. If you come into my area every time, you know I watched them doing that in our film. I recognized it and just wanted to go make a play,” Joseph added last year.

And with no intervention, there’s every reason to believe he’ll continue his modus operandi. Back-to-back brutal injuries probably aren’t a coincidence.

The Lions will host the winner of Monday’s Buccaneers-Eagles game next Sunday.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by