Sunday afternoon will mark WR Stefon Diggs' first time facing his former team, the Minnesota Vikings, since getting traded to the Bills in during the 2020 offseason. Even with this in the back of his mind, the wide receiver's preparation throughout the week hasn't changed and his focus is still on being ready to play at a high level come game time.
But knowing the opposing sideline will feature a few former teammates, Diggs said it's more about keeping his emotions intact and remaining the same player he always is when kick-off does roll around.
"Try not to heighten any anxiety or get anxious about it because I got to perform," Diggs said. "For me when I get in those highs, I guess high pressure or in a moment where things can get anxious, I just hone in on my game and go with what I trust and rely on my fundamentals just as a player."
To keep a positive mindset, Diggs focuses on the good things that came from the trade that brought him to Buffalo and the five seasons he spent in Minnesota, instead of harping on what didn't happen.
"My time in Minnesota was amazing," Diggs said. "I love it. I still date back to be like I had a great time in Minnesota. I don't have any bad taste in my mouth. I thought there were some great people, great players, great coaches. It just didn't work out."
After five seasons spent in Minnesota, Diggs eventually got to a point where he felt that what he wanted for himself was beyond measure, while also feeling like he had to better himself. Bills general manager Brandon Beane saw the potential in Diggs — who had 4,623 receiving yards and 30 touchdowns in Minnesota — and wanted him in a Bills uniform.
Now when going about any trade, Beane wants both teams involved, as well as the players, to benefit from it. And three seasons after Beane acquired Diggs from the Vikings, who in return landed WR Justin Jefferson through their 2020 first-round draft pick, the GM believes both teams won what turned out to be a wide-receiver swap.
"The timing was good of where we were in our build of this team, and they got a fresh piece in Justin Jefferson, who's very talented and has jumped right in there and been one of the best receivers in the league," Beane said. "So, that's probably as win-win, as you would find."
Speaking on behalf of the Bills' side of the trade outcome, head coach Sean McDermott said that they're certainly happy with the way that it worked out.
"Stef has been great for us, and he just adds so much to our football team in the way he plays, the way approaches the game, and his leadership for our football team," McDermott said.
When Diggs officially became a Bill on March 16, 2020, he said he probably felt a little anxious. Moving to a new city and joining a new team all during the COVID-19 pandemic wasn't necessarily easy, but Diggs and his new teammates at the time quickly became family, making for a seamless transition.
"I felt like they made me comfortable by like not only having a quarterback (Josh Allen) that gives you confidence," Diggs said. "He's more than just football. It was like he was my friend, so it kind of grew from there."
The on-field relationship continues to grow between the receiver and his QB every time the two connect on a pass. While it's no doubt Josh Allen is appreciative of Diggs ability to catch those passes, the growth he's seen from Diggs as a person since he got to Buffalo stands out to Allen just as much as his on-field growth.
"Having this media reputation of being this diva that didn't want to be in Minnesota and forced his way out and he's gonna hate it here in Buffalo," Allen said on B/R's VonCast on October 11. "He's grown so much, and it's been cool to see his progression. I think he's the best receiver in the game."
And their head coach is also quick to compliment Diggs' maturation over the past three seasons.
"That's the joy of coaching, is watching people develop and grow every year, grow every week in this case, and just been very impressed by his growth and development on the field, the way he handles things," McDermott said. "The great part about Stef is he still knows how to flip the switch. He has that very aggressive mindset when he's on the field."
While that aggressive mindset is likely to come out on Sunday afternoon, Diggs also looks at Sunday's matchup as a reflection of his NFL career .
"Sometimes things happen, sometimes curve balls are thrown at you and things are switched up. But I feel like this was part of my plan, the plan God had for me. And a lot of good things have happened to me since," Diggs said with a smile.