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Stefon Diggs: All heart, little ego

Don’t believe everything you hear. Actions DO speak louder than words.

NFL: Buffalo Bills at Miami Dolphins Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

When the Buffalo Bills sent several draft picks to acquire star wide receiver Stefon Diggs from the Minnesota Vikings back in March 2020, most Bills fans were ecstatic. Knowing that third-year quarterback Josh Allen would finally be paired up with a true number-one receiver (and one of the best route runners in the entire NFL) was enough for some to crown the Bills “Super Bowl contenders” before the season even began.

Enter the “‘SKOL!’ chanting” Vikings fans. As the news of the Diggs trade set the internet and sports world ablaze, defenders of the “purple and gold” took to social media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook, hoping in their minds to “set the record straight” about their newly departed wide receiver. While many wished him the best with his new team and promised to continue following his NFL career, a segment of Vikings fans were thrilled to see him leave.

The growing narrative of Diggs before he was traded to the Bills consisted of terms like “diva,” “distraction,” and “cancer” in the locker room. Outspoken Vikings fans needed Bills Mafia to understand exactly what they were getting in the former fifth-round pick out of Maryland.

Many thought Buffalo paid too much for a player who “lacked effort” and arguments between the two fanbases about which team “won the trade” went on for weeks. Actually, THAT particular Twitter war is still ongoing.

What exactly happened that caused Stefon Diggs to fall out of grace with Vikings fans, though?

For starters, offensive coordinator John DeFilippo was fired a few games into the 2018 season. He was replaced in the interim by Kevin Stefanski (currently the head coach of the Cleveland Browns) who wanted to take a run-heavy approach to the offense. Obviously, this meant less touches for Diggs.

Then there was the troubled relationship with quarterback Kirk Cousins, who signed with the Vikings in 2018. Although the pair got off to a hot start, the trust between Cousins and Diggs fizzled fast.

As Diggs took note of the budding rapport between Cousins and current Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen, he began to plead with his quarterback to put his trust in him. Cousins, however, continued to look in other directions and relations between Diggs and the Vikings organization as a whole deteriorated even more.

In 2019, rumors began circulating that Stefon Diggs wanted out of Minnesota and his frustration with the team became apparent. He reportedly lost his temper several times in training camp, was fined for skipping practices and hinted to the media that something was going to happen shortly before being traded to the Bills.

Stefon Diggs received a boatload of press, most of it negative, during his last two seasons with the Vikings. Opinions were formed without ever truly understanding his side of the situation. Sure, Diggs probably could have handled certain issues a little better but was he the egotistical diva that people were making him out to be? I certainly don’t think so.

In fact, the argument could easily be made that Stefon Diggs is all heart, little ego and was simply born to compete. He’s also been an extraordinary leader from the beginning of his football career and pushes the people around him to be the very best versions of themselves.

Let’s DIGG in. It’s time for people to try to understand who Stefon Diggs really is, not only as a star wide receiver in the NFL, but also as a human being. I think he’s earned it.

Former teammates speak up

Ex-Vikings guard Alex Boone joined Matthew Coller of Purple Insider to offer up some thoughts on Stefon Diggs. He stated, “He was one of the best teammates I ever had. I loved him as a teammate.” He then goes on to describe some of his best qualities as a player while Coller reiterates Boone’s sentiments by saying that he’s never had anyone paint Diggs as a bad teammate.

Running back Dalvin Cook was interviewed by the Pioneer Press after the trade. He and Diggs had been teammates for three seasons and he reached out to the wide receiver to show his support. He said he told him that he was his brother for life and that he was still there with him.

Cook also expressed his feelings on the trade to the newspaper when he stated, “It hurt. That’s my brother. You know how close me and Diggsie were. To see him leave, it hurts because you spend so much time with a guy. ... It hurt a lot of guys in the locker room, but it’s part of the business. We’ve got to accept that Diggs wanted to be happy and be happy for him as a player.”

Adam Thielen, the wide receiver who was counted on to fill the leadership role after the departure of Diggs, also spoke to the Pioneer Press about the trade. Thielen praised his former teammate and said, “I have so much respect for him, of how hard he works, how he approaches the game of football. I’ve learned so much from him as far as a receiver, how to run routes, different things like that. ...We’ve talked since he got traded. ...He is one of my good friends and will be for the rest of our lives.”

Of course, there are plenty more examples of former teammates gushing over Stefon Diggs. But it’s time to take a look at what his current Bills teammates have to say.

The Bills LOVE Stefon Diggs

Buffalo Bills general manager Brandon Beane is adamant that Stefon Diggs is NOT a diva. In fact, he believes he’s more of a “dog.”

Head coach Sean McDermott is a big fan of players who eat, sleep and breathe football. Stefon Diggs just so happens to epitomize the aforementioned kind of player and McDermott believes his competitiveness is having a positive impact on the team.

How does QB1 feel about his shiny, new wide receiver?

And that was BEFORE the start of the season. Now, after having played four games, Josh Allen has developed a special kind of chemistry with Stefon Diggs—to the tune of 403 receiving yards, which is tied for first in the NFL. The duo spent the offseason playing Call of Duty together, constantly feature each other on their Instagram accounts and take turns with compliments during press conferences. It seems like a match made in heaven.

Other Bills players are also huge fans of the wideout. Take a look for yourself.

Stefon Diggs praises others

For all the positive talk surrounding Stefon Diggs from coaches and teammates, Diggs is always quick to reciprocate. He seems to truly love playing in Buffalo and never misses a chance to heap praises on staff and players.

Actions speak louder than words

Perhaps talk doesn’t mean much to you, though. After all, players usually speak complimentary about their current and former teammates in the public eye, don’t they? If you need more proof that Stefon Diggs has been a leader, excellent teammate and overall good person from the beginning, keep reading.

When Diggs was still on the Vikings, he spent a lot of his time, on and off the field, with kids. Players across the NFL participate in different charities but it’s easy to recognize the ones who actually enjoy helping people. Whether tossing a ball back and forth to a young fan on the sidelines, making kids feel important or handing out coats to children in need, Stefon Diggs always has a smile on his face. He truly cherishes making a difference in the lives of children.

The words that come to mind while watching these videos are gentle, caring and role model. Tell me I’m wrong.

Wide receiver Mitch Mathews knew Stefon Diggs for four whole days when his mother passed away from pancreatic cancer in 2017. Diggs immediately sent a DM to Mathews, offering support to the new Vikings wideout, something that completely blew Mathews away.

At one point, even though his relationship with Kirk Cousins was strained, Stefon Diggs knew he still needed to reassure his quarterback. On the sidelines during a game, the wide receiver let Cousins know that he didn’t have to force the ball to him if he didn’t feel comfortable with it. “Play your game”, Diggs said. Social media took note.

When Stefon’s little brother, cornerback Trevon Diggs, was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in 2020, he wrote a very personal letter to him, welcoming him to the NFL. Grab your tissues before watching, though.

Upon being traded to the Buffalo Bills in early 2020, Stefon Diggs also penned a letter for The Players’ Tribune . In it, he detailed the emotional rollercoaster he experienced, from the sadness of leaving behind amazing friendships to the excitement of starting over and being able to play with Josh Allen. Every last bit of it is worth the read.

What about leadership, you ask? The proof’s in the pudding with this one.

Since training camp, Stefon Diggs has demanded the very best from his teammates. He’s not afraid to offer up some constructive criticism and he has spent lots of time trying to get on the same page as Josh Allen. His expectations for them are just as high as everyone else’s.

Diggs isn’t just a leader, though. He’s an unselfish one. At halftime against the Miami Dolphins, Stefon told offensive coordinator Brian Daboll to get John Brown and Cole Beasely the ball. He recognizes their importance to the team and is willing to lose some receptions if it means winning the game. Ask yourselves, would a diva do that?

When it comes to bonding with his Bills teammates, Stefon Diggs did something special: He created custom handshakes for everyone. Nothing says “team building” like a secret handshake.

My absolute favorite outward showing of leadership came during the game against the Las Vegas Raiders, however. Right before halftime, Josh Allen threw a pass and was crushed between two defenders. Clutching his shoulder, it was clear that he was in pain and social media speculated about the seriousness of his injury.

Stefon Diggs, however, remained poised and got straight to work on the bench. Not knowing if Josh Allen would return, Diggs immediately began talking with backup quarterback Matt Barkley, bringing him up to speed on the game plan. His focus during a possible catastrophic moment speaks volumes to who he is as a player.

Game-time greatness

On game day, Stefon Diggs consistently shows his team and Bills Mafia that he is worth every penny (and draft pick) spent on him. From leaping grabs on contested catches to putting his body on the line in order to make a hard-nosed block, Diggs does whatever it takes to win. His unselfish play and ability to fire up his teammates on the sidelines are just a few reasons that he is a true, number-one, ELITE wide receiver.

Remember, football fans, don’t always believe what you hear. Don’t judge a book by what other people read (or something like that). And don’t forget that there are two sides to every story.

In the wise words of Stefon Diggs himself:

Oh, and the Buffalo Bills absolutely WON THAT TRADE!!