On a weekend when the Cook brothers, Dalvin and James, and the Chubb cousins, Nick and Bradley, met on the football field, HBO’s Hard Knocks In Season: The Arizona Cardinals captured an emotionally rife postgame moment between Rams wide receiver Van Jefferson and his father, Cardinals wide receivers coach Shawn Jefferson.
Arizona had just defeated Los Angeles, 27-17, to hand the Rams their third straight loss.
“You played good, though,” Shawn said as the wideout buried his head in his father’s shoulder near midfield. “Stay in the fight, right? Let’s go. Stay in the fight. That’s what it’s about. You gotta grind it out, right? Keep grinding. Keep grinding. You’ll be alright. Stay in the fight. Nobody said this wouldn’t be hard, man. I’m telling you, it’s gonna be hard. You gotta keep battling. Keep battling, that’s it.”
After a brief exchange of support with Rams wide receivers coach Eric Yarber, Shawn stayed on message.
“And then, here’s the deal,” he said. “When you keep battling, after you come out of this test, you’re rewarded with another test. So keep going. Keep going, right? I love you, man.”
The tests both the Cardinals and Rams have faced this season have been more challenging than many anticipated. Playoff teams in 2021, the NFC West rivals have six losses apiece through Week 10.
Individually, Van missed nearly all of training camp and his team’s first six games after undergoing a knee procedure at the beginning of August.
He has struggled since his return. In Week 8, he had zero targets and in Week 9, five targets but zero catches. Van finally brought in three receptions for 27 yards and a last-second touchdown against his father’s squad.
Finding the end zone is a growing theme for Van with his father on the opposite sideline. Since Shawn became Arizona’s WRs coach in 2021, Van has caught a touchdown in all three of his regular-season games against the Cardinals and tallied 11 catches for 175 yards.
The Rams will require that type of production and for Van to keep fighting like his father told him if Los Angeles is to survive its 3-6 start, especially after losing the reigning AP NFL Offensive Player of the Year, Cooper Kupp, to a significant high ankle sprain Sunday.
As for the elder Jefferson, Shawn’s words of wisdom come from just that. He lived the trials and tribulations of an NFL player for 13 years, amassing 470 receptions, 7,023 receiving yards and 29 TDs.
He’ll now direct similar motivation to what he shared with his son toward his players on the Cardinals. An uphill climb awaits them, as well.
Hard Knocks In Season: The Arizona Cardinals airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET on HBO and HBO Max and will run until the end of the Cardinals’ season.
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