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Justin Jefferson is lauded by teammates and coaches for his charisma and genuineness. "But, like every great player," says Minnesota's Kevin O'Connell, "when they step between the lines there's something inside them that comes out." Nate Ryan for ESPN

He runs downhill as if he were on a track. His hips are swerving in and out of cuts without betraying his intent as he reaches full speed within two strides. A storm feels far away until it's overhead. Defenders must think they're covering a cloud.

It's a word that isn't normally associated with a sport that revels in its brutality. Only one word spreads its arms wide enough to capture the nature of the experience, and that is elegant.

It's like watching a book. Jefferson is on his way to breaking or at least challenging several NFL milestones as the Vikings run away with the NFC North. He's already the all-time leader in receiving yards for the first three seasons and has an outside chance at becoming the league's first 2,000-yard receiver. He and Michael Thomas shared the record for most catches in the first two seasons of an NBA career. The statistics are just a list of everyday things. They don't pay attention to the way the eye looks at his talent.

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Rickey Jefferson is one of three Jefferson brothers who played at LSU. He doesn't follow the laws of physics.

Any attempt to get Justin to explain what he does or how he does it elicits a laugh. He talks about how he has always been dismissed as the little brother in the family, and how he has always worked hard. He's 23, but he's still a kid. He misses his Thursday appointment because he has to leave the practice facility to let his dogs out of his condo. Nobody complains about the excuse. He has an endearing habit of leaning forward and ducking his head when he laughs.

Kevin O'Connell says that he has a genuineness to him. It always reciprocates when you engage with him. All his teammates love and respect him because of his smile and charismatic personality. Every great player has something inside them that comes out when they step between the lines.

It's difficult to find the best receiver in the NFL. All of them are fast and strong. Only the best are able to operate on a different frequencies. Jefferson believes he is the best receiver in the league because of his ability to make plays from anywhere on the field.

Jefferson -- who just became the all-time leader in receiving yards for the first three seasons - has been a huge factor in 9-2 Vikings' run through the NFC North. Nate Ryan for ESPN

Jerry Sullivan was Jefferson's mentor and personal coach after working as a consultant and offensive analyst for Jefferson at LSU. Sullivan was the coach of some of the best in the history of the National Football League, including Larry Fitzgerald. He should be aware.

Sullivan has a word for you.

I'm afraid we've been disconnected.

He said it was sudden. There is a sudden word for him.

You have seen the catch, but it's a vague concept. All of us have seen the catch. It has been re-examined and burned into the eye. It's November 13 against the Bills, fourth and 18, the Vikings down by four with two minutes left, and KirkCousins throws the ball in the general vicinity of Jefferson.

Rickey Jefferson said that they've talked about this. He had that defining-moment catch. We discuss it before the season starts. He said he had to get that one-handed catch. You have to get that catch to define you. There's no reason you shouldn't.

The pass was overthrown and headed for Lewis. Jefferson leaped backward because he was close enough to try. He pulled the ball out of Lewis's hands after swimming backwards in the air. Jefferson rolled off the ground with the ball after the play was untangled.

Rickey said it was like poetry. His number is fourth and 18. The game is on the line. He becomes the best receiver in the league at that point. I want him to be as humble as possible but you have to know who you are.

The catch was sudden in nature. We were left to clear room for what was previously unimaginable after a human feat that seemed impossible seconds earlier was no longer possible. It's amazing to see art emerge from chaos. For those moments of clarity, of beauty, of a human body doing something it's not supposed to do, we watch.

Jefferson's awe-inspiring catch on fourth and 18 helped spark the Vikings' comeback victory over the Bills on November 13. Isaiah Vazquez/Getty Images

One of the first things O'Connell did was to introduce himself to Jefferson. He watched hours of Jefferson tapes and became more and more eager to coach him. After O'Connell's introductory press conference, he and Jefferson met via video call, and Jefferson asked the question that burns in his soul:

How does Cooper Kupp open himself?

O'Connell was so excited that he could barely contain his joy. The way in which the question is worded conveys so many attributes that coaches love it. The coach's role in making great players even greater is acknowledged.

Do you want to know the truth? "O'Connell?" O'Connell said that Jefferson was able to play any spot on the field. He knows what to do and how to apply pressure to the defense.

Jefferson wants to do that as well.

O'Connell said it would take a lot of work. It's going to take more than just a commitment to learn something new.

O'Connell expects the next question before he finishes speaking.

He wants to know how it has worked out. He's accepted it all. He knows that the possibilities are endless. Because of how engaging he is and the expectations he has for himself, I coach him harder than everyone else. He's different and you have to coach him in a different way. It's important to be careful not to over coach him, which could lead to him being more rigid. You want him to be able to do what he wants.

Jefferson mentions O'Connell in our conversation. This and that are the consequences. O'Connell looked down and said he was the same. I think he's wonderful. He is one of my favorite people. Mike Zimmer was an older coach who didn't believe in connecting with his players and having a relationship, so he didn't believe in Jefferson playing for him. The person is different. He was a player and knows how a season should end.

"He likes ball, and he likes being around his family," famed receivers coach Jerry Sullivan says of Jefferson. "I tell people if you call Justin at 11 o'clock at night and say, 'We're going to play some touch football,' he'd say, 'I'll be right there.'" Nate Ryan for ESPN

O'Connell's approach differed from the others. During training camp, O'Connell invited Jefferson to his office for a conversation, which is how he discovered that he had never been to the head coach's office.

O'Connell coughs out a laugh after being presented with the item. He says he might have had to give him directions when he invited him. I did not know where the office was. It's insane.

It's fair to say that the Vikings' facility is a tangle of glass and steel that doesn't flow. treks down tall glass hallways and up huge staircases and through at least two security doors are even the simplest route. It doesn't seem like there is a direct route to anything, and navigating it without an experienced guide could lead to an extraction unit being needed. Jefferson was thought to be too valuable to risk the trip.

There were a lot of things that took place outside of football and the preparation for football that Zimmer was against. You did fun on your own. O'Connell sees no benefit in adding tension to a season that is inescapable. "We try to emphasize the positive aspects of getting to come to work every day, and I want everyone to know I'm in it with them," he said.

Jefferson is boring in a way that teammates like. Sullivan says that he likes being with his family. He would say, "I'll be right there" if you called at 11 o'clock. Rickey said, "That's our life." It has been our life. The two of us are talking ball. We play ball. We're that's us. During the Vikings' bye week in October, my brother and I sat in the posh Soho House West Hollywood, with swells making deals all around us, the heat coming through the windows, and the skyline behind us. It seemed to be a kind of metaphor for what was to come.

He wore a diamond necklace and Jordans. His name is Jets. He laughed at the idea of a Soho House opening in his hometown of St. Rose, Louisiana, and smiled a lot. He doesn't have an agenda for his upcoming trip to L.A. It's just here to get some sun.

Jets, the grill-wearing, dance-creating entertainer whose sway on the culture is evident every time a 12-year-old hits the griddy after making a free throw, is joined by the guy who lives with his brother and heads home for lunch. It seems like the difference between a face on a screen and a human being in the world is the public and private entity.

Jefferson, aka Jets, attributes his dominance to his ability to make a play from anywhere -- slot, wide, either side of the field -- even when double- or triple-teamed. Nate Ryan for ESPN

On the morning of his senior year at Destrehan High School, Justin Jefferson stayed in bed and cried. He says it was one of the hardest days of his life. He can be seen in the pictures of two other signing days, Jordan's and Rickey's, smiling. He stayed at his house.

One site ranked him as the best receiver in his graduating class, even though he was not a coveted recruit. The stars and rankings aren't always accurate. They're based largely on scholarship offers, and Justin's academic issues stemming from a lost freshman year made him ineligible to sign until he qualified academically.

He had offers from a number of institutions, including LSU. Jordan Jefferson says that the coach had a feel for who he was. We know you can play and we're waiting on you. He spent the summer boosting his grades under the supervision of his mother. Elaine said that it was veryStressful. It's very stressed out.

From his point of view, it's karma. He wondered if he would have gone to LSU if his grades had been better. I didn't get into the idea that my brothers went to LSU. It was important for me to go to a good school. I don't know if I would have gone to LSU if I had that high school degree. I think God planned it to make me who I am today.

He arrived on the practice field in Baton Rouge three days into fall practice, about eight weeks after the other scholarship freshman, with no idea of where to go. "Running around trying to do the right thing but not knowing where to go," Sullivan said. He weighed about 175 pounds. He was thought to be a walk-on by many of his teammates. Sullivan looked at Jefferson and said, "You see that kid right there?" There is something he has. He could be great.

Sullivan was surprised by the coach's question.

Justin Jefferson looks over his brother Rickey Jefferson's shoulder during his signing day in 2013. Courtesy Varsity Sports Now

Sullivan said that he had what he looked for. He cuts the same way he does. At the end of the route, his feet are not choppy. It looks the same every time.

Sullivan told the coach that he had been at it for 25 years.

Sullivan said to Jefferson, "You don't know who I am, but if you work at this, you have a chance to be really good."

John called Justin after the first practice to see how it was going. The moment he heard his son's voice, he was excited.

"Dad, this old, gray-haired guy pulled me aside and told me I have it," he said. He told me that if I worked hard and kept my head straight, I would be out in three years.

As a freshman, Jefferson didn't catch a pass, but he caught 165 of them over the next two seasons and won a national title. Sullivan's prediction was true.

He would blow up into what he did, says Greg Boyne, who coached all three Jeffersons. We were hoping he would get on the field. After a while, we realized that littleJustin is pretty good.

With 1,232 yards through 11 games, Jefferson has an outside shot at becoming the league's first 2,000-yard receiver. Nate Ryan for ESPN

Summer has run away to hide, seeming to drag fall away with it, and the temperature hovers around freezing as the sun begins to fall in Minneapolis. After the cover story photo shoot, the two guys play catch in a parking lot, tossing the ball from about 30 feet away. The simple act of throwing and catching a football feels almost sacramental because of the ease between the two.

As long as he has had memories, Justin has been doing this. He and Jordan and Rickey were playing in the vacant lot next to their home while their father sat in a chair and watched. He would lose and Rickey would cry. He likes to win, not that he's a cry baby. They remember when he was 2 years old trying to throw a tennis ball over the house, when he was 2 years old shooting on a 10-foot hoop and when he was 4 years old heading over to the lot. Rickey was a high school star on his way to becoming a starting safety at LSU, while Jordan was the starting quarterback at LSU.

"My hands used to hurt when I tried to catch the ball," he says. I used to stand close to that junk and it hurt a lot.

You used to catch it. There is hand-eye coordination. The ball has a nice grip on it. We always said 'if you can catch this ball'.

You can catch any ball in the country.

They laughed more than Jordan.

What was your age? "Do you want to?"

Jordan says eighteen, nineteen, twenty. There is no mention of the starting quarterback at LSU.

It was the first time that it had happened to him.

"Like Mom always said, you gotta look after each other, there was a big difference," Jordan says.

Jordan and Rickey Jefferson admit they never took it easy on their little brother Justin. "He wasn't going to get better if we went easy on him," Jordan says. Courtesy Jefferson Family

I asked Jordan if he and Rickey ever went easy on Justin, and the look he gave me made me want to take it back.

He said never. If we went easy on him, he wouldn't improve.

They know that the gift needs to be fostered. John and Elaine travel to almost every game and Rickey runs a lot of the business side. The brothers want to protect it because they've been close enough to see it and dream it.

Rickey says that everyone played a role in the development of the others. "Then there were whispers, 'You know, Rickey's going to be good, too,' and then with Justin people said, 'He might be the best of them all.' We are more of an empire than a group of people. I get passionate even though I'm sorry to have to say it. What is the relationship we have? It's impossible to break that. Our light is not dim by other people shining.

Both Jordan and Rickey are aware of how much attention can be given to them. In his final year at LSU, where he started 32 games at quarterback, Jordan was arrested at least three times for simple battery and marijuana possession. Rickey pleaded guilty to a charge of resisting arrest after an encounter with police at a parade.

Rickey says he's sure you've seen us on the internet. What you go through is not who you are. We had to stand together as a family. We were able to withstood the test and learn from it.

Jefferson adopted the Griddy as his celebration dance his final year at LSU, when his mother suggested he give the fans a little entertainment after a score. Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire

Keyser Jefferson was in a Trader Joe's near his home in Las Vegas, pushing a cart with his 18-month-old son in the baby seat. He went into the frozen food aisle. A mother and her two young sons were in front of them. The younger one was hitting the griddy. It was Rickey who recognized it as Griddy-adjacent.

Rickey said he would give him that. His Griddy looked like a mixture of KirkCousins and an O-lineman.

The Griddy became famous when his mother suggested he give the fans a little entertainment after a score. He adopted the dance invented by Allen Davis, a friend of Ja'Marr Chase, as his touchdown celebration, and now not only is the logo trademarked, but the dance is everywhere. "I knew from the beginning that it was unique and something nobody else does, but I didn't expect to see so many kids hitting the Griddy," he said.

Rickey, the brother of the man who turned a goofy dance into a worldwide phenomenon, walked up to the child and said, "Hey my man, this is how you do it"

Rickey threw up the B's when he saw the pork shuai and three cheese pizzas. He didn't want to reveal his brother's role in making this happen.

Rickey says he doesn't brag. I don't think it's about me. I just wanted to lend a helping hand.

Jordan, who started at quarterback for LSU, paved the way to the program for all the Jefferson brothers. Nate Ryan for ESPN

For the longest time it was one of the only undeveloped parcels in a quiet and peaceful neighborhood within sight of a levee. The scene of years of fierce competition was the scene of three boys whose age difference was four years older than the other. The family was so competitive that Rickey didn't beat his dad in basketball until he was 19 years old. He might have called that foul late in the game because he was so competitive.

John and Elaine are both employed by the St. Charles Parish Sheriff's Office. John tells me that they will keep working until they get their pensions. Part of the empire-not-entourage thing Rickey refers to is the welcoming vibe from every precinct of the family. A lot of families look at it the same way. John and Elaine are happy that he's made it. He bought his mom a car. She did not request it.

John, a former college basketball player who still carries himself with the ease of an ex- athlete, asked the owner of the lot next door if he could purchase it, not as an investment or a building site, but as a shrine. John said there was a lot of history on that lot. He was asked if he wanted to sell it. We were spending a lot of time on this lot.

Jefferson's brothers remember him at 2 years old trying over and over to throw a tennis ball over their house in St. Rose, Louisiana. Courtesy Jefferson Family

Few kids can spin the ball like Jordan did here. Rickey, the middle man, fought and argued with brothers younger and older, where his hands were taken a beating. It's where they'd find him when they couldn't find him, and where John told him, "You need some work, bro," the first time he took him out here.

John was told by the owner that he was going to build on it. John and Elaine walk behind the neighbor's house, showing what it looked like when they were raising their sons here. Over here, his brothers looked out the window and shook their heads as he threw the football to himself.

They spent a lot of their lives on this dirt. They're unspooling in their minds. The chaos of the three-game weekends were remembered by them. The dirt of the nextdoor lot is where they still see it all. Elaine said a lot of good memories. They don't say anything. John said he was glad they had it for the time they did. He returned to the house. He's going to be on a plane. His son is playing.

The video producer is Sandarvis Duffie. The art direction was done by Cornel Beard. Wardrobe styling and grooming done by two people. The first look is a jacket by Rhude, the second is a shirt by H&M, and the third is sweats by Gallery. Chains, grill, bracelets, glasses, and other accessories are included. The furniture is courtesy of a company.