Back in Week 4 of the NFL season, Justin Jefferson began making his case for Rookie of the Year. Despite a heartbreaking 1-point loss to the Tennessee Titans, the Minnesota Vikings receiver came down with 7 catches for 175 yards. None were more memorable than a 71-yard bomb in the third quarter that resulted in his first career touchdown. After torching the Titans secondary, the former LSU Tiger decided to show off his footwork. To the unitiated fans watching at home, it was just another touchdown celebration, but Jefferson was hitting his signature dance, "The Griddy."
"Everybody was just waiting for me to do [the Griddy], and everybody was hitting it before me. They had some other players hitting it before me, some LSU players who was hitting it before me, so I kind of had to make mine bigger than everybody else's," Jefferson tells Complex when recalling his first NFL touchdown ceebration. "So I had to hit it going into the end zone."
"The Griddy" was first seen on the national stage back in 2019 when Jefferson broke it out to celebrate a touchdown against the Texas Longhorns on LSU's road to the national title. But it had actually been created three years ago by Allen "Griddy" Davis in the weight room of Landry Walker High School in New Orleans to get hyped up with his teammates. Through the power of social media, the viral dance has made it all the way to the NFL with Jefferson making it his signature move.
"I feel like everybody really knows who does it the best in the league," says Jefferson with a laugh.
We caught up with Jefferson and the Griddy creator over Zoom to talk about the proper way to hit the dance, find out which LSU alum does it the best, who the GOAT wide receiver is, and get some laughs in. Check out the full interview below.
First and foremost, what is the Griddy dance?
G: Oh, the Griddy dance started in the weight room in 2017. I was a freshman. But the dance started from my friend recording me going crazy. At first it wasn't even called the Griddy, bro. It was just a regular dance. The fans made it a dance. So basically, I started doing it in the weight room as a one, two feet work dance. So he knew. He sent it to me, so I actually posted it on my Snap. So by the next day, I woke up for school. I just had so many screen recordings and screen shots, and I just went to school. People started trying to do it and learn it.
Then I had a name for it, so you know, my friends, I just told them, "Call it the Griddy since it's a dance that I made." Then after that, it just started getting bigger and bigger. I started posting more videos on Instagram, and people all over the world started seeing, college football players started seeing it, like Justin, LSU, all them started seeing it, and it started getting bigger.
One of the first times it was nationally seen during a game on TV was back in 2019 when Justin hit the dance after he scored a touchdown. Do you remember your reaction the first time you saw him do it on TV during a big game?
G: So you know, SEC, that's the biggest college conference. I'm in high school, so him in the SEC doing it, that is big. That's like LSU and Alabama. That's two big football teams. So playing off the SEC doing it, that's big time right there. So I knew the dance was going to be bigger than what it was.
It seems like it keeps getting bigger and bigger every week. So for anyone wondering, how do you do the Griddy? What is the official step by step?
G: Well, the first step, it's a one, two tap. Once you get the one, two tap right, it should be good. But the main two things you have to have is the foot work. They got some people that they'd be doing like the one leg tap. Bro, I don't know what that is.
So Justin, you're one of the main guys doing it, but we've seen OBJ, we've seen DJ Chark. There's a ton of other former LSU players and Louisiana guys that have been doing it this season, too. It's been like a signature dance for you guys, but why do you think that is?
JJ: Well, when I started doing it during the season last year, it kind of was like a signature. When I hit it at the Texas game, then that's when it was brought to SEC Network. Then I got on SEC Network and started doing it. Then I mean, every time I scored, I was doing it. So it just came with big things. That's what I was known for. I mean, I guess you could say [LSU] was pretty much trendsetters last year, just bringing all of that swagger to college football, and the world. We was pretty much on top of everything. I mean, nobody could tell us anything. I guess you could say that [the Griddy] is my signature move.
When you scored the first touchdown of your pro career, did you know already that that was going to be the celebration?
JJ: 100 percent. I feel like everybody knew like...everybody was just waiting for me to do it, and everybody was hitting it before me. They had some other players hitting it before me, some LSU players who was hitting it before me, so I kind of had to make mine bigger than everybody else's. So I had to hit it going into the end zone.
I saw even your teammate, Adam Theilen, got in on it. He was trying to do it on the sideline. Was he asking you how to do it? What was your reaction to him trying to hit the dance?
JJ: [laughs] That brings me back to the point where I'm just known for hitting that dance. So from the first time I stepped in the [Vikings] facility, he was trying to do it, and I've been trying to teach him it, and some of the other players. So they been getting better and better each week, but he came to me and just was teasing me about it and stuff. He said he was going to do it for his touchdown dance too. We just made a joke, and we just started laughing about it.
Have you learned a lot playing alongside a vet like Adam Theilen this season throughout your rookie year
JJ: 100 percent. Having somebody like him, being in the league for eight years, you get all that knowledge that he has. He has plenty of knowledge, especially for me being a receiver. Just everything. How to run routes, how to prepare myself to play each week, just how to be mentally prepared for the NFL, how to go against these different cornerbacks. So he's definitely been that mentor and big brother for me in the NFL.
Speaking on some of the LSU guys real quick. There's you now. You have OBJ. You got Chark down in Jacksonville, Jarvis Landry in Cleveland too. I don't want to miss anybody, but there's a few more I'm sure that I'm missing. But given all that NFL talent, all these receivers that have made it to the league, would you call LSU "Wide Receiver U"?
JJ: I mean, LSU has a lot of DBs that are in the league that are killing it, especially this year. But I mean, I feel like Receiver U definitely can be in the talk. We have a lot of guys that are on top of the league right now that are some big faces in the league. So I think we're getting there, but we're not there yet. They got too many good DBs in the league right now from LSU.
Can Joe Burrow do the Griddy?
JJ: [laughs] I remember one time, one game I want to say it was the Oklahoma game, the playoff game, and I think... If I could remember, I think he did it one time. It was on the sidelines, so nobody could see it. It was okay. It was okay. He can do it a little bit, but he still need to get that one, two footwork down a little bit.
You guys are both having incredible rookie seasons so far. He was your quarterback in college. You guys won a title together. Are you keeping of an eye on him, seeing what he's doing?
JJ: Oh, yes. 100 percent. I'm a rookie too and I want to compete for the Rookie of the Year. But I mean, yeah. I've been seeing him every week killing it, seeing his highlights, and me, him, Clyde, P. Queen and K'Lavon Chaisson, we all are in a group message, and every week, we're saying, "Congratulations," or, "Good luck this week. Kill it." So we've all been kind of motivating each other each week. We just really want to see each other come out on top, to be honest.
It feels like you and Burrow might be the front runners right now for that Rookie of the Year award.
JJ: Yeah. I had commented on my story one time, it was the charts of the rookie race or whatever. I was second, and he was first. And I had commented on my story. I was like, "I'm coming for you." And Joe had commented back. He said, "Yeah, all right." So yeah, it's been funny competing against him, but I'll be glad if he gets it, and I'm pretty sure he'll be glad if I got it.
You've had 100 or more receiving yards in three of the last four games. As a rookie, does it feel good to have those types of games? Is that a confidence boost for you?
JJ: Yes. Big confidence booster. Especially just being new to the league, and already, contributing this much to the team. And I mean, I just really just want to win. Just going out there and just playing my own ball. There is nothing really much to it, but I'm just trying to make my own statement. Just trying to prove to everybody that I am the best in the draft at receiver. That's just the mindset I've been having each week.
I feel like Viking fans haven't really had a young wide receiver talent right away like you probably since Randy Moss. Did you grow up looking up to him? Have you thought about your season in comparison to him at all?
JJ: I watched so many of Randy Moss's games. I mean, I just watched so many films, so much just different stuff on him just trying to learn, trying to see what made him so great, and what made him become a Hall of Famer. So I mean, just trying to pick up every little thing that I can from him. He started off strong, and that's the exact same thing I'm trying to do. It's kind of funny having his son go to LSU, and to be involved around that too. It's kind of weird that it falls in place like that.
Some even call him the GOAT when it comes to wide receivers. As a wide receiver yourself, who do you consider the GOAT?
JJ: I do feel like it's Randy Moss. I mean, you can't really argue with it. You check the stats out, and check out his film. He's unreal. He's unstoppable. He catches everything, runs great routes, he's fast, tall. So I mean, he has all the things that you need in a receiver. I definitely look up to him.
A current superstar wide receiver in the league is OBJ. He recently went down with that ACL injury. I see you guys are always back and forth in each other’s comments on Instagram, you’re both LSU Tigers. What was it like to see someone that you're close with go down like that?
JJ: I was just talking to him probably like two, three days before the game. So we was just chopping it up, just really being happy for each other. The Minnesota Vikings are not doing very good. He's not getting as many touches as he wanted to. But we were just really proud of each other for being at the position we are, and really just being friends, and just chopping it up a little bit. After I seen him get hurt and everything, I texted him and just made sure that he's staying positive, and just making sure that he has somebody in his corner. I mean, that's just the person I am, and I always looked up to him. I model my game after him a lot, so it's tough to see somebody that you look after, and you idolize your game after to go down. But I feel confident that he's going to come back stronger than ever.
What are your thoughts going into that second leg of the season?
JJ: I just want to win games, honestly. I never was that type of player to have a losing season and be in a losing organization. But really, we're just trying to keep our energy up. Just trying to make sure that that first half, or the first few games of the season, that's out of the way. That's blocked off. We had our bye, so it's like starting the season over again. So just trying to come in with that swagger that this team has been having for the past couple years. We're just trying to get back on that winning board. That's kind of what we've really been focusing on lately, just trying to get our head back into the game.
What's next for the Griddy?
G: I got my music video coming. I haven't even dropped that yet. That's what everybody's waiting on. So we playing it up, we setting the scenes and all that up. We got the Griddy video coming soon. That's the next big thing, for real. Because the music video really going to go.
JJ: Oh yeah. We got to a Griddy challenge, man.
G: Yeah, we need it. That's what I was thinking about dropping on the media. You trying to start it?
Who does the best Griddy?
JJ: That's tough. I've been seeing some bad Griddy's. I seen a lot of bad Griddy's. But that's a tough one, bro. I don't really see nobody hitting it like that.
G: Ja'Maar [Chase], bro. Ja'Maar really go crazy. Odell's not bad.
JJ: Odell's wasn't bad. Chark getting there. He getting there. He still need some practice a little bit, but he getting there. I think he knows who does it the best. I feel like everybody knows who really does it the best in the league, but you know. [laughs]