As everyone has surely heard by now, Minnesota Vikings’ defensive end Everson Griffen returned to practice with the purple on Wednesday. Griffen has been away from the team since an incident in the week leading up to the Vikings’ contest against the Buffalo Bills in Week 3, and has missed five games while he was sorting himself out.
Following Wednesday’s practice session, Griffen fielded questions from the Twin Cities media. Courtesy of the award-winning Minnesota Vikings’ PR department, we have the full transcript of his question and answer session below. Enjoy, everyone!
First off I want to take full responsibility for my actions that went on in September. I’ve had a lot of support from my family, the Minnesota Vikings, the doctors, my teammates, and the fans. I want to give my apologies to the people I impacted, I’m sorry if I affected them in any type of way. Just excited to get back here with my team and get back to the grind of things. It’s been hard to be away, but I’m happy to be back and it’s a good feeling right now. I’m taking it one day at a time, one thing at a time to get things back on track.
Q: What did you learn over the last five weeks? What’s different about you?
A: I learned a lot about the man outside of football. I had a lot of time to reflect on my life and where I want to go and the decisions I made, and I just want to get better with some of my decisions that I made and improve on them.
Q: What was it like coming back into the facility this morning?
A: It felt great, it felt great to see my guys. I love each and every one of my teammates, and it was just good to see the smiles on their faces, and they welcomed me with open arms. They want me to be the wild man, and I want to be that wild man, but I’m just taking it one day at a time and just processing everything and getting everything back on track.
Q: What kind of things did you do the last four weeks to now feel ready to rejoin the team?
A: I’m not comfortable answering that question right now, but in the future I’ll be able to.
Q: You’ve said that this is an ongoing work in progress, that coming back doesn’t mean everything is done and over with?
A: This is bigger than football, this is part of the process. We got a team, we got a good group of individuals, the Minnesota Vikings, the doctors, myself, my family, and we got a plan in place and we’re going to execute that plan day-in and day-out, and we’re going to stay on top of it. That’s our goal. This is bigger than football, and it’s part of the plan. I’m excited to be back.
Q: You’ve talked about someday telling your story. Do you know when that will be?
A: We have a plan in place, but we’re going to take it one day at a time. We’re not going to place an expectation on the outcome, we’re just going to keep it day-by-day and do the right things and stay on top of improving each and every day.
Q: Was there anything in particular you feel led to your troubles in September?
A: I’m not ready to get into that right now, but eventually I will be able to. Everything is going as planned, and like I said, we’re taking it one day at a time, one thing at a time. I’m just excited to be back. It was good to have some time to myself and figure out some of my things that I need to handle. I had a lot of support, a lot of fan support, and even a lot of support from you guys, the media. It feels good to see the love and the fan base that was there.
Q: You said your teammates want to see you be the wild man on the field. Can you still do that after getting a handle in your personal life?
A: Of course, but that’s in due time. Like I said I’m trying to keep it simple in my life and keep it simple and go day-by-day and just do the right things day-in and day-out – on and off the field.
Q: Do you feel physically ready to play?
A: Yeah, I feel good. I feel good. I was working out. I was able to work out and do the things I have to do, but playing this game of football it requires more than just working out. You got to push somebody, hit somebody, get your timing back. It’s more to go on the football just in running and training by myself. I’m able to play football, but I still have to got to get back in the pass rush flow and my run flow and stuff like that.
Q: When you stepped away from the team, did you know that was the right thing for you?
A: It was the right thing for me, completely.
Q: Did you know that right away?
A: 100 percent.
Q: Are you playing on Sunday?
A: Coach Zimmer can answer that question for you.
Q: Did you consider taking this year off?
A: Our doctors, our coaching staff, the Vikings, my family we just had a plan and I executed the plan and we took it day-by-day, step-by-step and it led up to this point. We made the decision that I was ready to come back and now I’m back.
Q: Does football feel like a comfort zone for you?
A: Absolutely. I live for this each and every day, but I also live for my family too. You got to have that balance in life and that’s what I’m working towards, having that balance each and every day.
Q: Do you have a message for anyone that might be going through anything similar to what you are?
A: If you are you need to ask for help. You need to go out there and find a good support team and do the right things to be able to be able to take care of yourself. That’s what it’s all about, taking care of yourself and taking care of your actions and doing the right things.
Q: Do you feel like you have a platform to affect millions of people, whenever you are able to share your story?
A: 100 percent. That’s the plan, 100 percent. I just want to be able to do it at the right time, the right place, and the right opportunity. It’s just right now is not the place, not the time, and I just got to focus on the right things and the right things are my family, finding that balance and getting back to work, and just executing my plan that we have in place.
Q: Was it ever difficult to stay patient when you were waiting and watching the games?
A: I was patient in my first four years in playing in the NFL sitting behind Jared Allen, Brian Robison, Kevin Williams, Pat Williams. Patience came early to me at a young age. It was hard watching my guys play, but I learned patience and being humble and waiting your time. I feel like everything happens for a reason and I needed this. I needed this to figure out myself and it was a good thing.
Q: Are you proud of the way they played?
A: Yeah, they’re playing awesome right now. We’re playing like a team, a blue collar team, a tough team, a team that is smart, a team that is physical, and a team that Coach Zimmer sees that we can be day-in-and-day-out. It was tough for the first few games, but it got easier for me. They did an excellent job.
Q: What was it like taking your chair back in the defensive line room?
A: It was awesome, man. Just getting back into life in general – driving my car, doing all the little things. You got to appreciate the little things in life and I appreciate the little things in life. I’m not taking any day, every day is a blessing. You got to be grateful and I’m just excited to back here. Once again, I apologize if I affected anybody, impacted anybody. I take full responsibility for my actions and I’m excited to be back and get the ball rolling.
Q: Was the NFL and players association supportive of you throughout the process?
A: Yeah, everybody. We had a good support cast. My family was a big support cast, the Minnesota Vikings family was a big support cast, the doctors. We did a good job putting a plan in place and we executed the plan. It was, like I said, it was a time and place where I needed this in my life and I’m happy that it was a right time and it was perfect timing for me.
Q: How difficult is it to ask for help?
A: Yeah, you got to put your pride aside. Sometimes you just got to put your pride aside and know when enough is enough. Sometimes you got to take it upon yourself and know when enough is enough and when you can’t handle it – when life is too much and you can’t find that balance. That’s all I tried to do is find that balance and work towards my health and wellness in not just football. It’s bigger than football. It’s my life, my family, my kids.
Q: Do you feel like you’re feeling ready?
A: I feel good. It’s a day-by-day progress. I’m feeling great. My first day back and I feel good. Got to knock a little rust off. Haven’t played football in five weeks, but that comes with practice being deliberate in my practice and just doing it day-in-and-day-out.