MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson doled out a few simple instructions.
“All you have to do is tap your heels,” he said, offering a step-by-step tutorial on The Griddy, the dance move he made famous during LSU’s national championship season in 2019 and then brought with him to the NFL during his record-setting rookie season last year.
Jefferson lifts one knee and taps the back of his black sneaker, then switches legs and repeats the movement before he begins swinging his arms while picking up the pace.
“Then you throw your B’s,” exclaimed the 22-year-old star wideout, mimicking makeshift goggles by making a circle with the thumb and index finger around both of his eyes, which signifies big billionaire.
Griddy Time @JJettas2 @LAHGRIDDY2x pic.twitter.com/FNd1GDBA6H
— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) October 3, 2021
Even those with questionable rhythm, like Vikings’ quarterback Kirk Cousins, who debuted his Griddy last year after scoring on a sneak at Detroit, have taken part in the touchdown celebration. Teammates such as Adam Thielen and Irv Smith Jr. also have joined in. Cincinnati’s Ja’Marr Chase, Kansas City’s Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Cleveland’s Odell Beckham Jr. and Jacksonville’s DJ Chark Jr., all of whom share LSU ties with Jefferson, have helped The Griddy spread across the NFL.
Plenty of players ran with the freedom to express their creativity when the NFL relaxed its rules on end zone celebrations in 2017, from coordinating a game of Duck, Duck, Goose to orchestrating the limbo with teammates.
Jefferson found his own way to celebrate.
Guided by the song “Griddy” by Kenneth Brother, a state champion football player-turned-rapper from New Orleans, Jefferson heel taps his way around the end zone while putting on for his native Louisiana.
Throw your B’s, Griddy … gotta lift your knees and Griddy … score six, whole team go Griddy … score six, whole team get litty.
The dance hails from Jefferson’s native Louisiana and was introduced to him during his quick rise from a virtually unknown recruit to national champion at LSU. The Griddy is more than just a short-lived TikTok trend or dance of the moment — it’s embedded throughout an NFL landscape loaded with players from Louisiana.
“It’s just catchy,” said Smith, a New Orleans native. “We try to be trendsetters in the sense of starting your own thing and not being a follower. It’s just cool seeing that stuff and seeing people from our city growing up watching these dudes and now getting their own platform in a sense.
“You can really make [it] your own. That’s the thing about New Orleans flavor. You kind of want to put your own little sauce on it.”
The origin of The Griddy
Chase, who played with Jefferson on LSU’s 2019 national championship team and was drafted No. 5 overall this spring, was introduced to The Griddy by his friend, Allen Davis, with whom he trained in the New Orleans area.
As a high school freshman in 2017, Davis, who gave himself the nickname “Lil’ Griddy,” was a big fan of the Nae Nae dance craze and decided to come up with his own. Davis slithered around the weight room at Landry-Walker High School in New Orleans, clicking his heels and throwing his B’s all while coming up with a rhythmic dance he and his teammates could turn up to pregame.
— Ja’MarrChase (@Real10jayy__) October 4, 2020
A friend posted a video of Davis doing his dance on Snapchat. The next day he woke up to several hundred recordings his followers had sent him mimicking his moves.
“I wasn’t thinking [anybody] was going to ride my wave,” Davis said.
Turns out they did, and it spread quickly. Davis needed a name for his dance. Among those he considered: The Skeet. The Skippy-Doo.
He finally settled on his own nickname, dropping the ‘Lil’ and calling it The Griddy.
Once Chase arrived at LSU, he became fast friends with Jefferson and showed him Snapchat videos of Davis’ dance going viral. Chase, Jefferson and their teammates instantly took to the trend.
“I’m not even going to lie,” Chase said, “we definitely did The Griddy almost every day.”
Ja’Marr Chase’s first NFL Griddy 🕺
— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) September 12, 2021
As LSU started rolling during the 2019 season, Davis’ dance got its due. In the second game of Jefferson’s junior season, the wideout exploded with nine catches for 163 yards and three touchdowns in a win over Texas. The first time he reached the end zone, The Griddy was introduced to America.
From there, it became a phenomenon.
‘That’s his dance’
Chase brought the dance to LSU, but it was Jefferson who became The Griddy ringleader in the locker room. And it quickly became part of his routine.
“We [were] talking about it at the beginning of the season, ‘Bro, we got to do it for the touchdown dance,'” Jefferson recalled. “I started doing it, and then the rest of the team, we [were] all doing it.”
KIRK COUSINS HITS THE GRIDDY 😂
— PFF (@PFF) January 3, 2021
After that Texas game, Jefferson’s teammates began to follow his lead.
“It looks like Justin is trying to make it his own thing,” Chase said. “It’s crazy what’s going on, how he’s doing it and stuff, but you know I’m saying ‘That’s me’. I showed him that.”
Jefferson was quick to introduce the dance to his teammates in Minnesota during the truncated version of training camp in August 2020. But because he didn’t start until three games into his rookie season, he wasn’t the first to Griddy in the NFL.
That distinction belongs to Edwards-Helaire, who Griddy-ed on the opening Thursday night of the 2020 season.
When Jefferson got his opportunity to start, in a Week 3 game against the Tennessee Titans, he broke out with seven catches for 175 yards and a touchdown with a Griddy celebration.
“That was my favorite game ever,” Jefferson said. “That first touchdown, I had to show the world a little bit more, a little bit extra to it just because the league was already starting to do it before I did it.”
Jefferson began to tap his heels inside the 5-yard line and waltzed into the end zone with his arms swinging and throwing his B’s.
“I kind of had to make mine memorable so people know I’m the king of The Griddy in the league,” Jefferson said.
Griddy 12 😤@JaMorant | #GrizzMediaDays pic.twitter.com/gXWC4JnrIq
— Memphis Grizzlies (@memgrizz) December 7, 2020
Jefferson had plenty of opportunities as he broke decades-long franchise records held by Hall of Famer Randy Moss. Jefferson finished with 1,400 receiving yards, the most by any rookie in the Super Bowl Era (since 1966), and went on to Griddy six more times.
He’s done it after each of the three touchdowns he’s scored this season.
“That’s his dance,” Smith said. “A lot of other people are hitting it as well, but I feel like he definitely put his stamp on it.”
‘The whole world is doing it’
At first, Thielen’s Griddy needed some work. Cameras caught the wide receiver rapidly swinging his arms and clomping his feet in an off-beat cadence on the sideline during a win at Houston in October 2020.
In time, he’s gotten better. Much better.
“I saw Kirk talk to you guys [during the summer], and he said he watched all of his games and tried to improve,” Thielen said. “Well, I watched all of my Griddy and tried to improve over the offseason, so it’s getting better.”
lawdddd 👌🏽 https://t.co/RLEMSUxQey
— Ja’MarrChase (@Real10jayy__) April 26, 2021
The NFL isn’t the only place where The Griddy has a footing. There are countless Griddy challenges on TikTok. It’s spread across sports with athletes like Houston Astros infielder Alex Bregman, Memphis Grizzlies sharpshooter Ja Morant, New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton and USA Hockey’s World Juniors team all busting out their renditions.
It even made it internationally during the Olympic Games in Tokyo when a German men’s soccer player Ragnar Ache threw his B’s in a game.
The Griddy also has a presence in the digital world.
In April, the popular video game Fortnite introduced a Jefferson emote, complete with his signature Griddy move. He’s the first NFL player to be featured in Fortnite, so of course he had to play as himself the first day it came out.
“Fortnite being as big as it is, a lot of kids play it so everybody was seeing The Griddy emote,” Jefferson said. “I remember one time I got killed, and the person — I didn’t even know who it was — they started doing The Griddy on me. It was pretty hilarious.”
HIT THE GRIDDY @camyork2 👌 pic.twitter.com/KuJ1g4iGnu
— USA Hockey (@usahockey) January 6, 2021
His next goal is to get The Griddy into Madden, which could come after another mega year for the Vikings receiver.
The Griddy has become a movement, one its creator and the athlete promoting it on the biggest stages hope will continue.
“It’s really a dream come true for me to see a dance that I trended,” Jefferson said. “To see the whole league doing it, seeing different players that I watched for so long do it — even not just in the NFL — the whole world is doing it and it’s really amazing to see.”