For a lot of rookie NFL players, the trappings of stardom can be one of the biggest hurdles they face in their jump from the college game to the pros. A lot of doors are open to them and, in some instances, those doors lead into bad places.
You would think that the meteoric rise to attention that wide receiver Stefon Diggs has received over the last month – being the first rookie Vikings receiver to post three straight games with more than 80 receiving yards since Randy Moss in 1998 – that he would be the toast the town.
He would be, if you could find him out on the town.
Diggs has remained in the eye of the storm that has surrounded him and he isn’t getting comped meals or autograph or photo requests because, if you trying to find him, it’s like a game of “Where’s Waldo.” The chances of finding him aren’t easy.
“I’m not seeing much of that because I don’t go out at all,” Diggs said. “I’m a homebody, so I spend almost all my time at home. As far as people recognizing me, they won’t be seeing me much outside. I spend most of my free time watching Netflix and talking with my brothers and spend time with them. The most of what I do is watch Family Guy and American Dad.”
Diggs’ instant impact on the Vikings offense has come as something of a surprise even to him. He came in as a fifth-round rookie with an injury history in college and flew under a lot of radars. His recent success hasn’t changed his philosophy on the game. He was the player making daily news at training camp by consistently making plays that got him noticed; he’s doing the same now on a much larger stage.
He hasn’t changed the basic thought process he had coming in – work hard and the rewards will come.
“I didn’t expect anything,” Diggs said. “I just went in with my head down and kept working, just like I am now. I’m going to continue to be the same way, so I don’t pay much attention to things outside of work.”
As Diggs continues to pile up the numbers – his 324 receiving yards leads the team despite playing in just three of their six games – he has drawn a lot of attention in the exploding world of daily fantasy sports. His value among those who play fantasy football has erupted, but, like much of the other notoriety that comes with being the next big thing on the football field, his adulation among the fantasy community is also passing him by without notice.
“I’ve never played it; I don’t even know what it’s like,” Diggs said. “I don’t know anything about how all that works. I’ve heard my name mentioned with it – somebody has me on their team, that kind of thing – but I’ve never paid any attention to it.”
The one thing Diggs has heard about has been the comparison to Moss and the numbers he put up in his rookie season surrounded by veterans with strong pedigrees of their own. An entire generation of young receivers grew up in awe of Moss and the freakish things he could do with a football in his hands, and Diggs is no exception.
He was humbled just to be mentioned in the same breath as Moss and knows that he can’t take his foot off the gas because if he wants to continue to be the center of attention around the Vikings offense, he has to continue doing what got him there in the first place.
“It’s a blessing,” Diggs said. “It’s great to see my hard work paying off. You just go with the flow because good things happen when you work hard and I just want to continue to get better and help our offense improve.”
It’s easy for young players to get caught up in the celebrity world of being a professional athlete. Everybody wants to shake their hand or get a photo or say they know that player. Often times, players can get caught up in their own hype and believe they’re all that. Diggs has avoided that trap and doesn’t plan on changing any time soon.
“He’s pretty humble,” head coach Mike Zimmer said. “Stays hungry. Works hard. I tease him a little bit about it – about every day I tease him, so he’s good.”
Sure, “Diggs” becoming a household name, at least in fantasy-playing houses, but in his own household he’s still the same Stefon he was in September when the outside world had little to no clue who he was.
He’s not going to get caught up in his sudden stardom. As he’s sees it, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, so he’ll just continue doing what got him to this point and try to keep doing what is needed to make sure he stays at the top of the hill now that he’s made the quick climb to the top.
“As far as continuing to grow as a player, I’m working hard to get better,” Diggs said. “If you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse. Your success depends on how much work you put in and I’m putting in the work to keep getting better and do the best I can to represent the Vikings as a player they can count on to make plays.”