Vikings relieved Everson Griffen crisis ends 'peacefully'

Minnesota Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen (97) runs during an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens, Sunday, Nov. 07, 2021 in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Daniel Kucin Jr.)

“We feel with the situation that we got him the necessary help he needs," general manager Rick Spielman said. “He’s in the care of medical professionals.”

Posted: Nov 24, 2021 11:23 AM
Updated: Nov 25, 2021 8:39 AM

EAGAN, Minn. (AP) — The Minnesota Vikings have made mental health support an organizational priority, an investment that only became more important with Everson Griffen's frightening experience three years ago.

The condition of mental illness never truly goes away, as the Vikings were reminded Wednesday. The team was relieved when Griffen emerged from his home without incident hours after he called 911 in a frenzy believing people were trying to kill him.

“We feel with the situation that we got him the necessary help he needs," general manager Rick Spielman said. “He’s in the care of medical professionals.”

The Vikings have an emergency action plan they enhanced in 2018 after Griffen needed care in the aftermath of a similarly scary situation and took a five-game leave to recover. The plan came in handy after middle-of-the-night messages Griffen posted on Instagram made public his struggle.

Griffen posted screenshots of urgent text messages to his agent, Brian Murphy, that were pleas for help because he said people were trying to kill him. He also posted a video depicting him with a gun — he said it was purchased legally — as he moved around his house in Minnetrista, a lakeside suburb west of Minneapolis. Those posts were deleted.

“We have the resources necessary that, when there are issues that pop up, we’re able to support each other and we’re able to take care of each other,” Spielman said about two hours after Griffen was taken away by ambulance to a health care facility for treatment.

Minnetrista police, in a news release, said officers responded to a 911 call at 3 a.m. from Griffen at his residence. Griffen said on the 911 call that there were intruders in the home and that he fired a shot but no one was hurt. When police arrived, no intruder was located. Responding officers determined Griffen was alone in the house.

The Vikings sent psychologists to work with police on coaxing him out. The Vikings announced the situation “ended peacefully” with Griffen coming out nearly 11 hours after the 911 call. Spielman was camped outside, facilitating communication and praying for the best.

“I can’t tell you how fortunate we are to have the mental health team we have in place that was there with me and to watch the law enforcement groups and how they handled the situation," Spielman said. "I was, I don’t want to say floored or surprised, but so impressed with how everybody worked together and handled a very difficult situation.”

The Vikings cited the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office, the Carver County Sheriff’s Office, the Minnetrista Police Department and the Orono Police Department for their “quick response and dedication” to ensuring Griffen stayed safe.

Griffen, a three-time Pro Bowl pick, missed five games in 2018 as he dealt with his mental health.

According to police at the time, Griffen had made comments about people trying to kill him. He was involved in a disturbance the day before a game at a local hotel, then later showed up shirtless at teammate Trae Waynes’ house. Griffen was taken to a hospital, but he jumped out of the ambulance at one point before police talked him back in.

Griffen was never arrested or suspected of committing any crimes, but he underwent a mental health evaluation. He then went on a team-supported leave, returning later in the season and finishing with 5½ sacks in 11 games. In an interview two years later with the NFL Network, Griffen said he spent the last three months of that 2018 season living in a sober house.

Fresh off two straight wins that put the Vikings in control of a playoff spot, the mood was somber at the team facility. Running back Dalvin Cook and defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson both said they'd tried to reach Griffen on his phone, but had not heard back from him when they addressed reporters before practice.

“We’re just trying to make sure he’s OK,” Cook said. “That’s our brother first, and we want to make sure his family is OK and make sure he gets the proper treatment and love that he needs to get through the time that he’s going through right now.”

Said co-defensive coordinator Andre Patterson, who has coached Griffen on the defensive line for seven years: “Everson is like a little brother to me. I just want him to be safe."

Griffen rejoined the Vikings this season after playing for Dallas and Detroit in 2020. He played for Minnesota from 2010-19 after being drafted in the fourth round out of USC. The 33-year-old has five sacks in nine games this season.

Griffen and his wife, Tiffany, have three children. He posted a moving tribute to her on Instagram on Tuesday, in honor of their youngest child's birthday, 4-year-old Sebastian.

The Vikings were focused on Griffen's well-being, not about his absence from the lineup, but their defensive line is already depleted. As for whether Griffen would play Sunday when the Vikings face the San Francisco 49ers, coach Mike Zimmer said: “No, that’s really not our concern right now. It’s really about him.”

Defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson was placed on the COVID-19 reserve list Tuesday and will not play the 49ers. Nose tackle Michael Pierce injured his elbow almost two months ago and will miss at least one more game. Defensive end Danielle Hunter is out for the season with a torn pectoral muscle.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 891099

Reported Deaths: 9406
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1743652015
Ramsey720081036
Dakota65596566
Anoka62204564
Washington39195354
Stearns32672274
St. Louis28594394
Wright25235206
Scott25213181
Olmsted21580127
Sherburne18406126
Carver1620266
Clay11865102
Blue Earth1121766
Rice11172138
Crow Wing10954121
Chisago970675
Kandiyohi9612106
Otter Tail9568124
Benton8767123
Beltrami798592
Goodhue781495
Douglas7642100
Itasca748694
Mower720247
Winona699856
McLeod692983
Isanti678383
Steele666030
Morrison661678
Becker617472
Polk589184
Freeborn548845
Carlton525973
Nobles521254
Lyon517261
Mille Lacs513272
Nicollet507559
Pine498041
Cass490252
Todd480942
Brown463457
Le Sueur443633
Meeker421057
Martin375943
Waseca364232
Wabasha363710
Hubbard348248
Dodge347611
Roseau307631
Fillmore297015
Wadena296239
Redwood276545
Houston264817
Renville263151
Faribault252431
Sibley246117
Pennington245629
Kanabec240834
Cottonwood224132
Aitkin215350
Chippewa215141
Pope201210
Watonwan193720
Yellow Medicine184721
Rock174328
Swift168522
Koochiching165323
Stevens163111
Jackson159016
Clearwater155120
Murray150611
Marshall150521
Pipestone147729
Lake129224
Lac qui Parle119425
Wilkin119015
Mahnomen104514
Norman10299
Grant9679
Big Stone9305
Lincoln8665
Kittson71223
Red Lake70410
Traverse5986
Unassigned550124
Lake of the Woods5235
Cook3000

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 516453

Reported Deaths: 7289
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk80319799
Linn32142424
Scott26637292
Black Hawk21974378
Woodbury20490258
Johnson19778105
Dubuque18515241
Pottawattamie15890213
Dallas15320113
Story1380258
Warren8450104
Cerro Gordo7964123
Clinton7725114
Webster7326122
Des Moines7098105
Marshall669093
Muscatine6645117
Wapello6441144
Jasper619591
Sioux610177
Lee5908105
Marion557897
Buena Vista502149
Plymouth488388
Henry418655
Benton404859
Jones404862
Bremer395372
Washington391463
Boone389739
Carroll367755
Mahaska365365
Crawford353747
Dickinson314655
Jackson307747
Buchanan305741
Clay295536
Delaware294654
Kossuth289077
Fayette286353
Hardin284353
Tama279777
Page272533
Wright266149
Cedar265527
Hamilton259857
Winneshiek258143
Floyd255449
Clayton244459
Poweshiek237243
Madison234525
Harrison234379
Cass233466
Butler232744
Iowa229634
Jefferson223043
Mills220930
Winnebago215938
Hancock214639
Cherokee211347
Lyon206142
Appanoose205357
Allamakee203955
Calhoun196919
Shelby196442
Union191141
Humboldt185130
Grundy183637
Franklin183029
Mitchell182043
Chickasaw178922
Emmet178246
Louisa176953
Sac171026
Guthrie168137
Montgomery161745
Clarke160829
Keokuk150839
Palo Alto150532
Howard146824
Monroe142739
Ida130141
Greene127517
Davis124625
Lucas124426
Monona122939
Worth12139
Pocahontas120724
Adair114337
Osceola104818
Decatur101913
Taylor98514
Fremont95913
Van Buren93222
Wayne84525
Ringgold76729
Audubon74917
Adams5748
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