Jayron Kearse has had himself an eventful few weeks.
One Saturday night in late October, the 25-year-old Vikings safety was arrested in Minneapolis on suspicion of drunk driving. Kearse, who'd driven around a construction barricade onto a closed section of the I-94 highway, had team cornerback Mike Hughes in the car at the time, as well as a loaded Glock handgun, for which Kearse did not have a permit.
Kearse copped to his mistake, saying it was "not a reflection" of him as a person, and that he's "truly sorry" for the incident. Coach Mike Zimmer said he was "really, really ticked off" with Kearse's "really idiotic" arrest.
Kearse remained with the team as the backup to starting free safety Anthony Harris, and has since made key, game-sealing plays in two straight weeks. Against the Dallas Cowboys, he took the field for Dak Prescott's last-second Hail Mary attempt and made a leaping interception to kill off the game.
Tentativa de HAIL MARY do @dak, mas a defesa dos @Vikings estava ligada e interceptou a jogada que poderia ter virado o jogo com o cronômetro zerado. Emoção até o fim na grande vitória do time visitante. #SKOL #NFLBrasil #NFL100 pic.twitter.com/V6qwWFTJde— NFL Brasil (@NFLBrasil) November 11, 2019
Yesterday, the Vikings mounted a miraculous second-half comeback against the Denver Broncos, coming from 20-0 down at halftime to lead 27-23 late in the fourth quarter.
Kearse made three key plays to save Minnesota's comeback, first shedding a block to spear Broncos quarterback Brandon Allen down at the four yard line.
On each of the last two plays, Allen threw to Broncos tight end Noah Fant. Both times Kearse played clean defense and broke up the play.
"I can make those plays," Kearse said after the game. "Bring it on."
Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs described Kearse as like a "little brother to him," and said he's "so happy to see [Kearse] step up in a big game."
If Diggs is indeed a sort of mentor to Kearse, perhaps he could teach him how to keep his social media expressions less declarative. Earlier this year, some cryptic posts caused speculation Diggs might want to leave the (then-struggling) Vikings.
Saturday night, on the eve of his second consecutive game-saving performance, Kearse was a little less subtle. Now in the final year of his rookie contract, Kearse went out of his way to say this is his last year with the Vikings.
Excited for my future����— JK (@Jayronkearse8) November 16, 2019
No— JK (@Jayronkearse8) November 16, 2019
Subsequent questions from other, equally random Vikings Twitter people, drew follow-ups that made it clear he's pretty serious about this -- and, uh, doesn't want coaches getting credit for his development as a player.
��������— JK (@Jayronkearse8) November 16, 2019
Yea because coaches make the players good? You sound dumb boy— JK (@Jayronkearse8) November 16, 2019
To Kearse's credit, tweeting you're on the way out is a better late-Saturday-night activity than driving tipsy around the "ROAD CLOSED" sign with a loaded gun in the car. Neither will endear him to the locals, though if he keeps making game-winning plays... well, football fans have forgiven worse.