Sep 10, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) warms up before the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

It’s not often that you see a beat reporter publicly take issue with trade rumors — especially one that was first made public by a peer. But when it comes to the rumblings regarding the Minnesota Vikings potentially dealing star wide receiver Justin Jefferson, The Athletic’s Alec Lewis has seen enough.

“You can just say anything in this media environment, and no matter who you are someone will believe it and give it life, and there will be no repercussions for being totally wrong,” Lewis wrote on X, quote-tweeting a clip of Michael Lombardi discussing the trade rumor on The Pat McAfee Show. “What a time.”

While it may appear as though Lewis was taking a shot at Lombardi, it’s worth noting that the rumor regarding a potential Jefferson trade has been circulated for a few days now. In fact, it appears to have originated with a piece of information published by Charley Walters of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, who wrote that “there was buzz at draft time that the Vikings wanted to move from No. 11 to No. 5, not to pick a quarterback but to get LSU wide receiver Malik Nabers, who was picked No. 6 by the Giants. Had that trade occurred, Jefferson would have been traded and Nabers would have been the No. 1 receiver.”

Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio seemingly corroborated at least part of Walters’ report that there was “buzz” regarding such moves (which never happened), stating that he had also heard (but was unable to confirm) that the Vikings were trying to move up to select Nabers in April. Florio noted that it was odd that Walters’ information wasn’t used for a standalone article for the St. Paul Pioneer Press, but added that the reporting shouldn’t be discounted, nonetheless.

Between Walters’ reporting and Florio’s aggregation, the trade rumor became enough of a talking point to be discussed on The Pat McAfee Show on Friday, with Lombardi stating the information as fact. At this point, it’s unclear whether Lewis was taking issue with Walters, Florio, Lombardi, McAfee, or any combination of the four.  Or, perhaps he was simply speaking on the state of news aggregation in sports media, which wouldn’t be unique at The Athletic this week.

[Alec Lewis on X]

About Ben Axelrod

Ben Axelrod is a veteran of the sports media landscape, having most recently worked for NBC's Cleveland affiliate, WKYC. Prior to his time in Cleveland, he covered Ohio State football and the Big Ten for outlets including Cox Media Group, Bleacher Report, Scout and Rivals.