Everson Griffen 'happy to be home' with Vikings, says he'll apologize for remarks made last season

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Minneapolis Star Tribune 24 August, 2021 - 06:27am 29 views

What did Everson Griffen say about Kirk?

In January, Griffen tweeted at the Vikings organization and said, “(Starting quarterback) Kirk Cousins is ass. Thank you”. He followed it with a pair of disparaging tweets in which he tried to indicate that Vikings coach Mike Zimmer did not want Cousins on the team (he signed during the offseason in 2018). Sporting NewsEverson Griffen says he will apologize to Kirk Cousins for calling him 'ass'

Vikings play host to disease expert Michael Osterholm as some players remain unvaccinated

Minneapolis Star Tribune 24 August, 2021 - 12:20pm

As some prominent Vikings players remain unvaccinated, renowned epidemiologist Michael Osterholm visited TCO Performance Center to speak during a team meeting on Monday morning.

Osterholm, the University of Minnesota infectious disease expert, is the latest medical professional to speak to a Vikings team that, as of earlier this month, had the league's lowest COVID-19 vaccination rate among players, according to a league source. The NFL has since announced that all locker rooms have reached a 75% vaccination rate.

Coach Mike Zimmer has been vocal since the spring about pushing players to get vaccinated for health and availability reasons. Vaccinated players are freed of many NFL restrictions from the 2020 season that remain in place for unvaccinated players, including mask wearing, social distancing, daily testing, different travel protocols and rules prolonging their return to play after infection or close contact.

"It went well," Zimmer said. "He's one of the top specialists in the world, and I thought he was very good with his points, answered a lot of questions. Whether or not that changes anything, I don't know. We were very thankful he was able to come over here and talk to the team in person."

"He understands the importance of when people look up to our football players," Zimmer added, "especially now with all the — and I don't want to get into it all that much — but with this delta variant and how it's affecting younger people all over the world, I think that the more we can show it's safe and young kids, not younger than 11, but these kids can get vaccinated, we're all going to stay healthier."

Zimmer wasn't sure whether the FDA's approval of the Pfizer vaccine Monday would lead to more vaccinations among players. Kirk Cousins was quarantined earlier this month because he was unvaccinated and deemed a close contact to fellow quarterback Kellen Mond, who was also unvaccinated when he tested positive for COVID-19. Mond missed 10 days of camp, while Cousins missed five, before protocols allowed them to return to the team. Receiver Adam Thielen, safety Harrison Smith and defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson have previously said they are unvaccinated.

"Some of the questions that were asked are things you hear on the internet," Zimmer said. "Like [Osterholm] said, he was going to be 100% honest. If he knows the answer, he'll tell it. If he didn't know it, he would tell it as well. I thought he did a terrific job and hopefully it helps. I just care about these players and I care about their families. So that's my main reason. If they miss a game because of COVID, so be it. But I don't want them to get sick and I don't want their families to get sick or their kids to get sick or my grandkids to get sick."

Rookie receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette, one of just two players made available to reporters on Monday morning, said the talk was "informational" for players.

"It was good," Smith-Marsette said. "Just having him talk, letting people know more knowledge about vaccines and stuff like that. I mean, it was good. I'm pretty much vaccinated."

The Vikings do not currently require fans to be vaccinated to attend home games. The Raiders require proof of COVID vaccination at their home games in Las Vegas, which has a state mask mandate for venues of 4,000 or more people unless attendees are vaccinated. The Saints, following New Orleans city guidelines, also require least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine or a negative PCR test.

"As we have throughout this pandemic, we are following CDC and Minnesota Department of Health guidance and working closely with the league and the state on all of our decisions," said Jeff Anderson, Vikings vice president for strategic and corporate communications. "We will continue monitoring the COVID situation in Minnesota and discussing a number of options internally and with NFL and local medical advisors over the next few weeks."

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Osterholm tries to dispel vaccine myths for Vikings

Minnesota Public Radio News 24 August, 2021 - 12:20pm

The Star Tribune reported the University of Minnesota researcher spoke to the team on Monday. Coach Mike Zimmer has been trying to push players to get vaccinated.

Quarterback Kirk Cousins was forced to quarantine earlier this month because he was an unvaccinated close contact to quarterback Kellen Mond, who was unvaccinated when he contracted the disease. Receiver Adam Thielen, safety Harrison Smith and defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson have said they’re unvaccinated.

Zimmer said players asked Osterholm questions that were “things you hear on the internet." The coach said he hopes the presentation helps.

“I just care about these players and I care about their families,” he said. “So that's my main reason. If they miss a game because of COVID, so bet it. But I don't want them to get sick and I don't want their families to get sick or their kids to get sick or my grandkids to get sick."

Rookie receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette said the talk was “informational.”

“Just having him talk, letting people know more knowledge about vaccines and stuff like that,” he said. “I mean, it was good. I'm pretty much vaccinated.”

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Griffen back with Vikes, regrets leaving in 2020

Trojans Wire 23 August, 2021 - 08:59am

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EAGAN, Minn. -- Veteran free-agent pass-rusher Everson Griffen signed with the Minnesota Vikings, the team announced Monday.

The terms of Griffen's contract were not disclosed.

Griffen, 33, was selected by Minnesota in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL draft and spent a decade with the Vikings. From 2010 to '19, Griffen totaled 74.5 sacks, which ranks seventh in franchise history. He was named a Pro Bowler four times in Minnesota, including three straight seasons from 2015 to '17.

In February 2020, Griffen opted out of his contract and became a free agent. He signed a one-year deal with the Dallas Cowboys in August 2020 and was traded to the Detroit Lions two months later. In 14 games last season, Griffen registered six sacks, 33 tackles (seven for loss) and 14 quarterback hits.

Griffen said he was waiting for the "right fit" as a free agent and noted how difficult last year was having to move his family from Minnesota to Dallas to Detroit in the middle of a pandemic. His familiarity with the Vikings' scheme and close relationship with players like Danielle Hunter and defensive line coach Andre Patterson drew him back to Minnesota.

"Honestly, I wanted to be here," Griffen said. "I really wanted to be here. I felt like this was the best fit for me throughout the whole league. I really wanted to be here and I'm excited to be back. I'm just happy that things worked out the way they did and they welcomed me back with open arms."

As Griffen reflected on why he left Minnesota instead of taking a pay cut after opting out of his previous deal, the defensive end expressed regret with his decision.

"I left because I thought the grass was greener on the other side, to be honest, and it wasn't," Griffen said. "Going to Dallas, going to Detroit, the grass wasn't greener. I didn't get the love that I got here with the fans, with the coaches, with the players and the grass wasn't greener. I learned I'm back home and I'm happy to be home. I should have stayed last year, to be honest. Where people love me, where the fans love me, where you guys love me. I should have stayed but I worked hard. I made sure that I was productive enough. I should have stayed but I'm happy to be back."

One of Minnesota's top position questions in training camp is determining who will start opposite Hunter at defensive end. Stephen Weatherly and D.J. Wonnum have been the front-runners throughout the preseason, but the team left the door open for more competition at that spot when it brought in Griffen for a workout last week.

Wearing an unfamiliar No. 58, which he noted was a "little bit" weird, Griffen was at practice Monday and participated in light individual work. Coach Mike Zimmer said Monday that the Vikings plan to use Griffen as a "situational" pass-rusher. Griffen said he'll play "wherever they want me."

"If I didn't think he could help us, we wouldn't sign him," Zimmer said.

Griffen met with Vikings brass last week following his workout to confirm, "that my head was in it. That I'm in a good place." The defensive end took a month-long hiatus during the 2018 season to focus on his health and wellbeing after the Vikings ordered him to undergo a mental health evaluation and two separate incidents involving police authorities led to him being hospitalized.

Griffen opened up about his struggles last year and told NFL Network that he lived in a sober house for three months beginning in Oct. 2018.

Earlier this offseason, Griffen composed a handful of insulting tweets where he called Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins "ass" and claimed that Zimmer never wanted to sign the QB. The defensive end said he planned to speak to Cousins and apologize.

"I haven't really talked to him yet but I'm going to get around to doing that," Griffen said. "Apologize to him, apologize to Coach Zimmer, [general manager] Rick [Spielman] about what I said. I take full ownership in that. I've still got to talk to Kirk and apologize to him about that."

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