The NFL’s Big Gaffe Affected Vikings 

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

The NFL’s main social media account appeared to be duped — or just didn’t care — this weekend during the Detroit Lions and Tampa Bay Buccaneers Divisional Round playoff game, and the Minnesota Vikings were one of the victims.

Detroit advanced to its first NFC Championship since 1991, chipping off the Buccaneers. and will now play at the San Francisco 49ers next weekend with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line.

The NFL’s Big Gaffe Affected Vikings 

At one point in the contest, a television cameraman showed a Lions fan holding up a sign that paid homage to Detroit’s recent dirty play while hyping the team’s recent accomplishments. It was a standard rah-rah posterboard sign, but it applauded opponents’ injuries, mainly to T.J. Hockenson last month and Los Angeles Rams tight end Tyler Higbee last week.

Big Gaffe
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.

Of course, the Lions fan has no accountability. So long as the sign wasn’t outwardly profane or vulgar, the person can bring any sign of their choosing to a game. Yet, this one sideways championed “kneecap” hits to Hockenson and Higbee, and the NFL posted it anyway.

Tone deaf indeed, the NFL person who pressed POST on the X app likely didn’t correlate the checkmarks next to the Vikings and Rams logos to Hockenson and Higbee, but by the time the tweet hit the digital stratosphere, the damage had been done. The NFL, by implication, seemed to condone the hits by Lions safety Kerby Joseph that injured Hockenson and Higbee.

Prominent Vikings fan Vikeologist replied to the post on X, “All about player safety though right?”

@jamiechrist1 commented, “This surely isn’t the official account celebrating injuries. Right? Right?”

2 Vikings Snubbed
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

After Joseph blew up Higbee’s knee last weekend, Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford was unimpressed and reproached Joseph, “Hey!! That’s a good hit, but you’re dirty as f***, and you know it. It’s been on tape. I seen it.” The video:

Joseph tweeted on January 14th, 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.”

Rival Named as Possible
Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports

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.”

Here was the play on Higbee:

And the hit on Hockenson from Christmas Eve:

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. He 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. So, a bottom-14 NFL safety.

“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.

Last week, Lions head coach Dan Campbell defended his players’ technique of injuring opposing players, “That’s how we play football here; just keep your head up, see what you hit.”

At the time of this article’s publication, the NFL tweet remained up and the league did not clarify anything about the tweet.

The Lions are a seven-point underdog heading into San Francisco next weekend. The winner will take on the victor of the Kansas City Chiefs at the Baltimore Ravens in the Super Bowl.


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 OverTheCap.com.

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