clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

How Does Stefon Diggs Navigate Life With the World’s Worst Superpower? A Ringer Investigation.

It’s time to ask four existential questions of the Vikings wide receiver and modern-day Midas

Geico/Ringer illustration

By this point in the NFL season, you probably know all about Stefon Diggs’s hands. As revealed in a Geico commercial, the Vikings’ fourth-year wide receiver suffers from a rare condition that causes everything he touches to stick to him.

I know what you’re thinking: This is just an ad. It’s not real. Geico is trying to sell insurance by making up a ridiculous premise.

But if Geico were really going to make up this condition in an attempt to shill product, why would it have picked Diggs for its commercial? Wouldn’t the company have sought out a more famous receiver, or at least a more famously charismatic one, such as Odell Beckham Jr.? Diggs is a quality player, but he has never posted a 1,000-yard season, been named All-Pro, or played in a Pro Bowl. He’s not even the most prolific receiver on his own team, and has finished in the top 10 of a major statistical category only once, as he ranked eighth in the league in receiving touchdowns last season.

Geico insurance rivals State Farm and Nationwide have hired legitimate sports superstars to pitch their products. Chris Paul and Peyton Manning have been the focal points of years-long ad campaigns that center on their supposed obsessions with insurance. Meanwhile, Geico has rolled out dozens of spots starring B-list athletes who barely mention insurance, instead choosing to dwell on the strange intricacies of their lives. Geico revealed that retired Bengals running back Ickey Woods still pretends to celebrate touchdowns in his mundane post-football life; that retired Giants running back Tiki Barber is a disaster of a hair stylist; that NBA Hall of Famer Dikembe Mutombo is a sociopath; and that MLB Hall of Famer Randy Johnson destroys people’s property and doesn’t pay for it. Why would Geico have commissioned commercials around Nicklas Backstrom, Braden Holtby, and linebacker Brian Orakpo—none of whom have ever been among the five most famous athletes in the greater Washington, D.C., area, let alone the country—unless everything depicted in them was 100 percent true? If Geico’s advertising strategy were simply to make up one-liners about, say, former Dallas defensive end Ed “Too Tall” Jones instead of convincing viewers to buy its insurance, it’d be a lousy insurance company, right?

The Diggs story must check out. Geico’s longtime spokesman is a gecko, and geckos have extremely sticky feet. Presumably, the Geico gecko heard of Diggs’s similarly sticky situation and decided to make him the company’s newest pitchman.

Now that we know Diggs’s condition is indisputably real, we have four more questions about it. Surely, the fact that everything he touches adheres to his body is helpful in his job as a receiver, as catching footballs is inherently effortless. But how does the modern-day Midas get through the rest of his day?

Question No. 1: How Does Diggs Use the Bathroom?

As a responsible journalist, I believe it is my obligation to start here. This may be uncomfortable for fans to think about, but it’s probably even more uncomfortable for Diggs, for whom pooping may be more difficult than scoring game-winning touchdowns in the playoffs. Does he use toilet paper? Because if so, presumably he’d have to walk around all day with used toilet paper attached to his hand.

Does Diggs pay somebody to wipe for him? He just signed a five-year, $72 million contract with the Vikings, so he has a good amount of money. (How did he sign the contract? I typically hold the paper I’m writing on with my non-writing hand, but that’s a non-starter for Diggs.) But maybe that’s not enough money to have a full-time butt-wiper. How much money would you need to wipe an NFL player’s butt? After careful consideration, I can say that I’d need a lot.

Or does Diggs use a bidet? Are bidets as effective at cleaning as toilet paper? If so, why don’t we all use bidets? How much do bidets cost? And do bidets require preexisting plumbing, or would I hire a plumber to install a waterline to the location for one? OK, now I’m just publicly expressing my interest in owning a bidet instead of questioning the tragic nature of Diggs’s reality. Let’s get back to more pressing matters.

I’m curious about how Diggs washes his hands. Does the water stick to them, or is his condition limited to solids? What about soap? If Diggs applies soap to one of his hands and then rubs his hands together, do they stick? Has Diggs, in fact, ever washed his hands? This should go without saying, but if you ever meet Diggs, you should under no circumstances greet him with a handshake.

Question No. 2: How Does Diggs Get to Work?

Does Diggs drive to the Vikings facility each day? If my understanding of his unmistakably real and heartbreaking condition is correct, I think he’d yank the steering wheel out of his car shortly after parking. That’s if he could get his hands on the steering wheel in the first place; Diggs is at risk of getting stuck to the car door or the seat belt before then. Wait a second, has Diggs ever tried to drive stick? That seems like an incredible danger to other drivers. For both his sake and ours, I hope that he has a chauffeur.

And how does he get dressed? I can’t imagine any method that wouldn’t end with both of Diggs’s hands attached to a pair of underwear, the only item of clothing that he was able to successfully put on. Each Sunday that Diggs shows up to a Vikings game in full uniform is a miracle.

Question No. 3: How Does Diggs Eat?

Thankfully, this is a question we can partially answer. Geico explored Diggs’s eating habits in a follow-up documentary segment in which he prepared a bowl of cereal:

Here, we learn specifics about Diggs’s uncommon condition. He can, with some difficulty, detach items from his hands. He uses his mouth to pry a spoon out of his hand—a process that appears painful, although it’s unclear whether the pain is caused by the item desticking itself, the awkward neck motion that Diggs performs in order to detach the spoon, or both maneuvers. He also manages to scrape the cereal box from one hand to another. So we know that item adherence to Diggs’s hands is not permanent. It just requires a concentrated effort to loosen items that have become stuck.

Still: How does Diggs eat a sandwich? Does it look like his mouth is fighting his hands for possession of the food? Why doesn’t Diggs pay somebody to feed him? Heck, it can even be the same guy he pays to wipe his butt.

What does Diggs do when he eats a steak? Does he cut it with a fork and knife, all while accepting that he’ll attach pointy weapons to his hands? Does he pick up that steak and bite it? Does Diggs ever drink during meals?

And perhaps the biggest question of all: Why does Diggs suck so much at preparing food? He even seems to struggle at pouring milk into his cereal bowl, which, to be honest, shouldn’t be affected by his condition. Why does Diggs approach every task as if he doesn’t have sticky hands? He’s 24; shouldn’t he have figured out some workarounds by now? What if Diggs tried applying a napkin to his hand at the beginning of meals? That way, the napkin would stick to his hands instead of the food.

Wait, wait, wait—why doesn’t he wear gloves all the time?

Question No. 4: Hold On, What About Gloves?

We know Diggs wears gloves when playing football. Here, look: gloves.

Diggs easily released the football, took off his helmet, and flung it aside after making his game-winning touchdown catch against the Saints in last season’s playoffs. This was all made possible because he was wearing gloves. If he weren’t, everything would have stuck to Diggs’s hands. In that scenario, the minutiae of the game would have become challenging: He would’ve had to come out of the game after every catch to have someone pry the ball from his hands; he would’ve never been able to create separation from defenders by using his hands. If Diggs ever opted not to wear gloves on the field, he’d get called for holding every time he threw a block; the opposing player would stick to him.

But Diggs’s most famous play also shows that he doesn’t use his literal superpower in the one way it would be most applicable: catching footballs.

I worry about Diggs. He chooses not to take advantage of his incredible hands on the field, and seems unable to adapt to his condition off of it. Geico’s brief glimpses into his life reveal a man who’s been given a gift and yet treats it as a curse.