Justin Jefferson’s Rivalry Will Have to Wait

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Oct 30, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

Last year, it became clear that there was a budding rivalry between Packers CB Jaire Alexander and Vikings WR Justin Jefferson.

It really became clear during last season’s Week 17 matchup between Green Bay and Minnesota back on New Year’s Day. During the first quarter of that game, Alexander broke up a pass intended for Jefferson and immediately did the Griddy: Jefferson’s signature touchdown celebration. Take a look:

Of course, that game would end with a dominant victory for the Green Bay Packers to the tune of a 41-17 shellacking. Jefferson caught just one of his five targets for 15 yards during the loss. It was the first and remains the only time in the star wide receiver’s career where he was held to just one reception in a game.

Since then, the NFL world has awaited the wide receiver’s chance to respond, but it appears that we’ll have to keep waiting another season for that to happen.

Justin Jefferson vs. Jaire Alexander Will Have to Wait

Jan 1, 2023; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Green Bay Packers cornerback Jaire Alexander does the Griddy after breaking up a pass intended for Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Tork Mason-USA TODAY Sports

Green Bay and Minnesota met at Lambeau Field back in Week 8, but Jefferson was still on injured reserve recovering from his hamstring injury. Even without their star receiver, and with Kirk Cousins suffering a torn Achilles during the game, the Vikings cruised to a 24-10 victory.

Now that Jefferson is healthy, Week 17 seemed like the date that we would get a reignition in this rivalry. However, days before the game, the Packers announced that Alexander is being suspended for the game, and the reason for the suspension is almost unbelievable.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported on Wednesday that the Packers CB is being suspended because he walked out to the center of the field for the coin toss prior to Green Bay’s Week 16 game against the Carolina Panthers despite not being a captain.

Justin Jefferson
Dec 25, 2022; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Green Bay Packers cornerback Jaire Alexander (23) runs with the football after intercepting a pass during the fourth quarter against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Rapoport proceeded to reveal that Alexander nearly messed the toss up by trying to call “defense” rather than “defer”. As a result of his actions, the CB will not only be watching this weekend’s coin toss from the sidelines, but the entire game.

Packers GM Brian Gutekunst released a statement regarding the decision, which read:

“The decision to suspend a player is never easy and not one we take lightly. Unfortunately, Jaire’s actions prior to the game in Carolina led us to take this step. As an organization, we have an expectation that everyone puts the team first. While we are disappointed, we had a good conversation with Jaire this morning and fully expect him to learn from this as we move forward together. We look forward to welcoming him back next week as he is a valued member of this team and will continue to be in the future.”

Dec 24, 2023; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Green Bay Packers cornerback Jaire Alexander (23) reacts in the fourth quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Either way, this game is way bigger than an individual rivalry for both teams. Both Green Bay and Minnesota head into this weekend at 7-8 and are fighting for their playoff lives over the final two weeks of the season.

The winner of this game could re-enter the playoff picture, depending on what happens with other teams across the NFC, while the loser could be eliminated altogether. The action all kicks off on Sunday, December 31st at 7:20 PM Central.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of PurplePTSD.com. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.