Vikings’ swagger gone

Everson Griffen
The missing Everson Griffen Photo by Steve Floyd

After four weeks and being 1-2-1, the 2018 Vikings season has been bumpy and rough thus far. Expectations for a super season have been altered by the reality of life in the NFL. A death in the family to Offensive Line Coach Tony Sparano has been an additional challenge; these 53 guys and coaches have not had time to grieve.

They look the same but don’t have the same swagger. An injury here and a missed kick or two there, the inability to run the football, plus turnovers, and suddenly winning football games has become a thing of the past.

The last two weeks of dealing with the sudden, unexpected mental health concerns of All-Pro Everson Griffen has impacted this team. The Vikings defense has disappeared, losing 27-6 to Buffalo as a 17-point home favorite. Green Bay played the same team and shut them out 22-0! Baltimore beat Buffalo 47-3.

In the last three games giving up 29, 27 and 38 points is not good defense. I’ve been covering the Vikings a long time, and not until the Los Angeles Rams’ 38-31 win allowing 556 yards, 10.1 yards per play, have I ever seen a Vikings defense get torched. This is a defense with five Pro Bowl players, mind you.

The Vikings are not faultless with Griffen now out. They knew he had issues from his actions over the years, but being a three-time Pro Bowler with 45 sacks and the team going 38-20-1 over the 59 games since 2014, you allow some things to go. However, you don’t deal with mental health issues with Band-Aids.

A couple of my longtime friends and mental health advisers, KMOJ’s Sam Simmons and Dr. Taunya Tinsley, a longtime NFL Clinical Advisory Committee member, have often reminded me how delicate and essential is the continued support for athletes’ mental health.

Griffen has done some bizarre things off the field that have been questionable and not disclosed, like securing private plane parties with all women. He’s always been near the edge until two weeks ago when he went over the top and the team finally ordered him to seek mental health treatment before returning to play.

He went over the top at the Minneapolis Hotel Ivy two weeks ago Saturday, threatening to assault hotel staff while lying on the floor demanding he be let in his room. He did not have a weapon, but he’s a big man giving the appearance he was under the influence of either alcohol or narcotics.

Later the same day, while being taken to the hospital in an ambulance, Griffen tried to jump out. He’s clearly dealing with demons and was fortunate to avoid being charged by the police in this incident. “We are aware of the situation involving Everson Griffen and certainly concerned by what we’ve heard,” said Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman.

What’s next? Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday at Philadelphia. With Griffen, a valuable team member lost to the team in this serious matter, Vikings fans have reasons for concern.