Kevin Stefanski told T.J. Hockenson to ‘go down’ when he was limping off the field

Everything becomes a conspiracy and a controversy. And when Minnesota Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell was spotted by ABC’s cameras telling his tight end to go down, effectively giving the Vikings a time out, you knew what was coming next.

Vikings tight end T.J. Hockenson, perhaps the team’s best offensive player with Justin Jefferson sidelined, was limping off the field after a play in the second quarter against the San Francisco 49ers.

That’s when O’Connell told Hockenson to “go down.” He wasn’t trying to hide it, yelling at his tight end on the field.

The Vikings had just picked up 30 yards to the 49ers’ 2-yard line, and Hockenson is one of their best red-zone threats. They did not want Hockenson off the field on first-and-goal, and if the Vikings were trying to cheat at that point — there was no point for it, it’s not like they had a need to stop the clock in that situation — they would have: 1) told a lesser player than Hockenson to fake an injury, and 2) not been screaming from the sideline to go down.

It’s not uncommon for a football sideline to tell a player to go down when he’s slowly trying to get off the field. It allows the trainers to come out and from a competitive aspect, the team has a bit of a breather to substitute. The injured player has to sit out at least one play when there’s a stoppage. Is it bad sportsmanship to tell a player to go down rather than have him try to drag himself off the field when he suffers an injury? Maybe. But it’s pretty common and it’s not cheating.

It’s illogical to believe the Vikings picked that moment to cheat and tell their player to fake an injury, but conspiracy theories are more fun. Social media went crazy, as expected. That’ll do, until the next thing that gets unnecessarily blown up into a controversy. At least this one didn’t have to do with the NFL rigging games due to Taylor Swift.

Minnesota Vikings tight end T.J. Hockenson (87) sits on the field after getting injured. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

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