Vikings Fans Suddenly Love Matthew Stafford

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings have played against Matthew Stafford on 22 occasions since 2009, knocking off teams led by the veteran quarterback 60% of the time.

But this week, Vikings fans became unlikely bedfellows with Stafford. Why? Well, the two parties have a shared opinion about a particular player — Detroit Lions safety Kirby Joseph.

Vikings Fans Suddenly Love Matthew Stafford

After Joseph targeted the knees of Vikings tight end T.J. Hockenson last month, the team’s faithful decided he was a “dirty” player. Hockenson was lost for the season with a torn ACL and MCL and may not return for Week 1 next season.

Love Matthew
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports.

But the Hockenson injury news blew over after the Vikings failed to qualify for the postseason, and Joseph became moot. Then, during the Wildcard Round of the postseason, his antics were again front and center. This time, Joseph collided with the knees of Los Angeles Rams tight end Tyler Higbee and — you guessed it — ended his season, as he did Hockenson’s. Higbee suffered the same injury, caused by the same guy.

In the heat of the moment, Stafford took offense to the hit and called Joseph out in real-time. The footage debuted on social media while Vikings fans rejoiced, thinking Stafford gets it.

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.

“Hey!! That’s a good hit, but you’re dirty as f***, and you know it. It’s been on tape. I seen it,” Stafford lambasted Joseph during a playoff loss at Ford Field. Here’s the video:

VikingsTerritory’s Janik Eckardt replied to the tweet, “I suddenly love Stafford.”

After the Lions-Rams last weekend, 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.”

Public Enemy
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:

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.”

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

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.

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. Meanwhile, Vikings fans, plus newfound ally Matthew Stafford, are wildly unimpressed.

The Lions host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday afternoon.

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).

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