Minnesota Vikings cornerback Duke Shelley made a statement on Sunday, intercepting Chicago Bears quarterback Tim Boyle and spiking the ball at midfield in the fourth quarter — a move that irked his former team.
Bears rookie safety Jaquan Brisker told local media that he wasn’t happy with Shelley spiking the ball on the team’s logo at midfield.
“That’s disrespectful. You don’t do that. You don’t disrespect our logo,” Brisker said, per Daniel Greenberg.
Shelley had premeditated motivation for his celebration after the Bears cut him in August after three seasons with the team. Shelley signed to the Vikings practice squad the following week and has since made an impact, becoming a starting outside cornerback after the Bears tried to relegate him to the slot due to his 5-foot-8 frame.
“My whole career, I’d been playing outside corner,” Shelley told the Pioneer Press leading up to Sunday’s game. “When I got drafted, I thought I’d get a chance to play outside, but (the Bears) slotted me in as a nickel. But I’m more comfortable on the outside. I’m just glad it’s ended up working out.”
Shelley’s first interception of his career coming against his former team was poetic justice that he addressed along with Brisker’s comments after the game, tweeting “All love… but they had to feel how disrespected I felt when they cut me.”
A Chicago Cutdown Casualty, Vikings CB Duke Shelley Finishes 2022 Season Top 10 at His Position
Shelley’s future in the NFL was uncertain after the Bears cut him on August 31. He had spent three seasons in Chicago after the team drafted him in the sixth round of the 2019 draft.
He landed in Minnesota but was on the practice squad for the majority of the season until injuries hit the Vikings cornerbacks room. Shelley played his first game in purple and gold in Week 10 against the Buffalo Bills and came away with a vital pass defensed on Bills tight end Dawson Knox in overtime the play before Patrick Peterson clinched the game with an interception.
It was a breakout moment for Shelley who has shined ever since. He’s started the past four games and finished 2022 regular season as the eighth-highest-graded cornerback by Pro Football Focus with an 81.5 grade. He also owns the third-best coverage grade in the league.
“It’s surreal. It’s a blessing,” Shelley said after the game, adding that his arrival to Minnesota helped his development. “It made me grow as a person. It made me grow to stay patient to trust in the process. It’s been a great journey for me… being here in Chicago and getting my first pick, this story was kind of written for me.”
Kevin O’Connell Sounds off on Duke Shelley
After the game, Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell awarded game balls to Shelley and defensive tackle Khyiris Tonga, who was also cut by the Bears before the start of the season.
“It’s been huge,” O’Connell said of having Shelley in a postgame press conference. “He got that ball out on the field and then we gave him a game ball in the locker room, coming back here to his former team. All that guy’s done since he got to Minnesota is be a great teammate, work incredibly hard, be reliable as any player I’ve ever been around. He’s as competitive as any player I’ve ever been around. And he’s an absolute joy to have on your football team.
“I feel blessed and lucky to have benefited from Kwesi’s guys identifying a player like that to add, and just continue to hope for Duke to experience success here with us and continue to be a big part of our defense.”
Shelley’s persistence paid off at Soldier Field, where he was met by Peterson who came flying onto the field to congratulate his teammate.