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NFL Films Producer on Spotlighting Justin Jefferson in 'Receiver'

WR Justin Jefferson
WR Justin Jefferson

EAGAN, Minn. – Get ready for an up-close look at "JJettas."

Thanks to the upcoming Netflix docuseries Receiver*,* fans will be privy to access behind the scenes of Justin Jefferson's 2023 Vikings season.

Produced by NFL Films and Omaha Productions, Receiver is set to premiere this summer, following the success of Quarterback, which hit the Netflix Global Top 10 for three weeks after its summer 2023 release by spotlighting Patrick Mahomes, Kirk Cousins and Marcus Mariota.

NFL Films Senior Producer Tim Rumpff ran point on filming Cousins during the 2022 season and on filming Jefferson this past season. Rumpff joined KFAN’s 9 to Noon Friday morning and spoke with "Voice of the Vikings" Paul Allen about the series that will feature Jefferson, Davante Adams, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Deebo Samuel and George Kittle.

"The first thing that struck me as I started to get to know [Jefferson] and film with him is just how, for being the superstar that he is, he's just – like Kirk – a good human being, at the end of the day," Rumpff told Allen. "That's refreshing and great to see, and something I think Vikings fans would love to know. [Although they've] obviously seen it while he's out in the community doing the things he does."

One of the obvious storylines, of course, is Jefferson's hamstring injury suffered Week 5 against the Chiefs that sidelined him through Week 13.

Though the injury was a major blow to Jefferson's season, Rumpff emphasized the way Jefferson gracefully and earnestly navigated such disappointment.

"I'm sure from Justin's perspective, he signed up for this show to show everyone how he's the best receiver in the NFL. He's going into the season, 'Hey, I'm gonna break 2,000 yards; this is gonna be an historic season to capture. It's gonna be amazing.' Obviously, things change as he gets hurt,' " Rumpff told Allen. "But it almost became just as interesting of a story and one a lot of people can relate to because, 'Hey, things don't always go according to plan, but then how are you going to adjust to that and really show your true character?'

"But the big thing I'm hoping comes across, and I think will come across, is that when he got injured, certain athletes … might have just folded and said, 'Hey, I don't have a contract [extension]. I'm done. I'm me-first.' It was really great to see Justin be a team-first person,' " Rumpff said. "And not only that, but his own personal greatness, in addition to the team, was saying, 'I need to be back for the player that I am. I need to be back for my teammates.' And I think that's something not only Vikings fans, but football fans across the world, really, will appreciate seeing."

Allen asked about the discreetness with which Rumpff and his NFL Films colleagues executed filming during the season.

Rumpff noted the importance of respecting the time and discretion of not only the featured player but also his teammates and coaches.

"The last thing we want is to become a distraction to any players who agree to do this show. We don't want them to have to answer questions every single week about what they're doing with the show or if it's a distraction," he explained. "We've kind of perfected the craft of blending in, adjusting to the players' schedule and their lives – because they've got busy, demanding schedules – and finding little pockets to do shoots with them.

"With any kind of shoot that NFL Films does, we want to be a fly on the wall. Whatever they're doing, we're just there to document it," Rumpff added. "That's what we've perfected – especially these last two seasons in Minneapolis. And hats off to the Vikings for really welcoming us, and hopefully we're able to show J.J. just as well as we did Kirk last season."

Rumpff has also been a part of filming and producing HBO's Hard Knocks series, which typically follows an NFL team through its training camp and covers the team's preparation for the upcoming season.

Asked by Allen which series is more difficult, Rumpff said they each have their own set of challenges – and each can be equally laborious despite spanning different lengths of time.

"Hard Knocks, in the offseason, it's so condensed to the seven weeks where you're living training camp with those guys," Rumpff said. "The gruel they're going through, you're going through it, too. It's long hours – 16-, 18-hour days – where you've gotta be filming anytime those guys are awake.

"Whereas something like [Quarterback or Receiver] is taxing, as well, because it's just a longer period of time … the roller coaster of the season, the games mean so much more. So the guys are on bigger emotional swings," he continued. "You've really gotta build a relationship for them to trust you, so they allow you to go into their home after they have a great game … or a horrible game."

Rumpff explained the key to a successful season of filming boiled down to an initial conversation between NFL Films and the player.

It's important for the producers to understand the player's routine, weekly and daily schedules and team requirements.

"And then from there, we just build out schedules. We look at the schedule of the season before the year even begins, and there's a couple games we probably highlight like, 'Hey, we want some extra coverage, we'd like to be with family members during these games.' And then we kind of build shoots around that," Rumpff said. "A typical weekend is the player getting body work done on Friday. Does their family come into town on Saturday and film with them at the house? What are their routines like when they get ready and Justin turns into his 'Jets' persona? Little things like that, that can kind of show how they become these great players, personas and entertainers that they are. If you stay true to them, you're able to show who they are as a player and person."

Rumpff added: "I will tell you, spending the past two years in Minneapolis, I've definitely become an honorary Viking fan, for sure."