Minnesota Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen has returned to the team after about a month away while he dealt with what he described as ongoing “personal issues.”
About an hour before the team’s Week 4 game against the Rams, Griffen posted on Instagram that he was “focused on resolving” those issues.
“I’m just excited to get back here with my team and get back to the grind of things,” Griffen said after his return to practice. “It’s been hard to be away but I’m happy to be back.”
His status for the Vikings’ Week 8 game against the Saints is up in the air:
Why was Griffen absent from the Vikings?
Griffen was not on the sideline during the team’s Week 3 game against the Buffalo Bills. According to a police incident report filed that weekend, Vikings personnel were concerned about Griffen’s behavior. The report said he had been “explosive, screaming, and yelling” at the team facility and that, in recent weeks, he had been “increasingly paranoid and feared someone was trying to kill him” before an incident at Hotel Ivy on Saturday.
The Star Tribune reported police responded to a call Saturday from the Hotel Ivy in Minneapolis after a man was threatening to assault hotel staff. Griffen was allegedly the suspect, though his name was redacted from the police report.
He was later hospitalized, per NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero. Griffen was scheduled to finish a mandated mental health evaluation.
Griffen was not arrested
The police did not arrest Griffen as a result of the hotel incident, which also included him lying down on the lobby floor and being “possibly under the influence of alcohol or narcotics,” according to the Star Tribune’s report.
The suspect said he would shoot someone if he wasn’t allowed into his room at the Hotel Ivy. Minneapolis Police Department spokesman John Elder told KSTP-TV the suspect left the hotel and was never seen with a gun.
A second police incident report also said Griffen attempted to break in to the home of teammate Trae Waynes, and told police that “God made me do it.” Waynes, however, disputed that part of the report.
“To clarify, there was no attempted break-in at our home and at no point did my family or I feel unsafe. We are friends with the Griffen family and we are here to support them in any way possible during these trying times,” Waynes said in a statement.
The second incident report was filed after Vikings director of security Kim Klawiter called and requested an officer check on Griffen’s wife and kids. His wife, Tiffany, told police Griffen “hasn’t slept in days.” Via Fox 9 in Minnesota:
“Tiffany said that Everson has not been acting normal lately. She stated that last Sunday on 09-16-18 they were sleeping and in the middle of the night he got up and left. Tiffany said that he does this from time to time as he is fighting with ‘demons’ in his head and that it’s normal for him to run away and has done this throughout his life.”
The reporting officer placed a health and welfare hold on Griffen “based upon his actions and information I had acquired about him,” according to ESPN. When he was being transported to the hospital, Griffen reportedly jumped out of the ambulance because he “was in fear someone was going to shoot him.”
The Vikings are supporting Griffen
After the game against the Bills, head coach Mike Zimmer said that Griffen was “having a personal matter and I’m going to leave it at that.”
A couple days later, Zimmer said a little more.
“The only thing I’m really concerned about for Everson isn’t anything to do with football,” Zimmer told reporters. “It’s about him getting better. In the five years that I’ve been here, I’ve always loved Everson, the effort that he puts out, the work that he does.
“He’s always been a really, really good model for us, and obviously he’s going through some tough times now.”
General manager Rick Spielman released a statement following the hotel incident.
“We are aware of the situation involving Everson Griffen and certainly concerned by what we have heard,” Spielman said. “We are currently focused on Everson’s well-being and providing the appropriate support for him and his family.”
The Vikings welcomed Griffen the person, but also the leader, back with open arms.
“I don’t think this is as unique as what we are making it out to be. This is an illness, and he’s done a good job of helping to get better and continues to try to get better,” Zimmer said.
Griffen has been a Pro Bowler the past three seasons, and signed a four-year, $58 million contract with the Vikings in 2017. Griffen had been listed on the injury report with a knee issue. He was listed on the injury report as “knee/not injury related,” and has not played in any game since Week 2.
The statements from Griffen and the Vikings don’t indicate how soon the defensive end will be ready to return to the field, but it does seem that he has made positive progress that could allow him to continue his career soon.