Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen has been through quite the evolution. In fifth grade, he was the only guy to play the flute in the school band (he ultimately switched to trumpet). Coming up in hot, dry Arizona then playing football at sun-soaked University of Southern California, he was a bit shell-shocked moving from the beach to the tundra. Case in point: He drove a pickup into a snowbank. But he kept on, because as he explains, “I was so blessed to play good ball with the Vikes, and I keep proving them right that they can trust me.”
Then there’s transitioning through the build-out of the new stadium, the new training facility and the new rulings on game play to keep players safe. Plus, he met his wife and had three kids, becoming a family man. “I live for the babies,” he says with obvious pride. “And I married a good ol’ Minnesota girl. I’m sucked in for life.”
And that’s clearly OK with Griffen: “Minnesota will grow on you, with great restaurants, great culture and the great outdoors.” Now that he’s through those early years of building his skills on the field, he’s ready to aim high for 26 sacks this season. And he’s also flexing his philanthropic muscles. Griffen and his family enjoy spending time at Children’s Minnesota and supporting Perspectives, helping women and children with housing, medical and mental-health needs.
“I just want to help people who need it,” he explains. “This is not just about being a good football player, but being a good person and trying to do the right thing. That’s what it’s all about.”
Editors’ Note: As our autumn issue went to press in September, Everson Griffen announced his decision to take time away from football to focus on personal issues. He shared the following on Instagram: “This past week’s events have raised many questions, and I want to apologize to everyone who was impacted. I am currently focused on resolving personal issues with which I have been dealing for a long time. Once I have had time to address those issues, I hope to share my story with everyone. I am extremely grateful for the support I have received from my family, the Vikings organization, my teammates and our tremendous fan base. I apologize for not being able to take the field with my teammates and do not have an exact timeline for my return. I promise, however, I will return as a much-improved person and player.” We wish him the best.