Weathering the media storm: A synopsis

Everson Griffen hoped he would be answering football questions but likely knew that wasn’t going to last. Not with a media crowd thirsty for sound bites.

Most fans read, see or hear interviews in small doses. A four-minute TV interview can be cut down to the eight-second money shot. A 15-question interview may yield two or three quotes that end up in finished product.

But, it’s the in-between that typically ends up on the cutting room floor.

Not this week.

There weren’t many players in the locker room for the assembled media throng – which included what may be a Winter Park-record nine satellite trucks – to interview. Those who did venture into those shark-filled waters likely had the feeling they were living out an episode of The Walking Dead and it wasn’t going to be pretty.

Everson Griffen was sitting at his locker. An area cub reporter approached Griffen’s locker, despite a pre-emptive glance that advised against stopping. He asked if Griffen had time for “a couple of football questions.” He did.

The fact Griffen was sitting at his locker spoke volumes. He knew what was coming, even if he was going to start by answering a couple of legitimate football questions.

His eyes widened as the tsunami approached.

After answering two questions about dealing with Drew Brees, the tone of the questioning went All Day.

With the first Adrian Peterson-themed question he was posed, Griffen said the decision was out of his control and that they should ask management to answer that question.

You won’t see that on a TV sports segment.

Griffen attempted to deflect the line of questioning and shut it down. He would soon learn, with chum in the water, that wasn’t happening, especially after saying, “we support Adrian” – followed by a second reminder that questions of that nature should be posed to management.

At this point, a John Williams score is in order – you can decide whether the more appropriate music would be from Jaws or from Star Wars. Both seem apt.

Asked if there was a “sense of relief” that the team can now focus on the Saints, Griffen took the bait, but quickly went back on point and turned the answer back around to football.

“It’s always going to be a distraction,” Griffen said. “The best running back in the NFL. He’s not with us. But, at the same time, we have to be professional about it, go out there and execute our assignment and play the style of ball we know how – high-tempo, very, very aggressive and attack, be smart players out there and do our job.”

That sound bite will have some traction … at least the first part of it.

Asked again about Peterson, for the third time, Griffen attempted to make it clear he didn’t want to answer questions about the matter, saying, “It’s not my place and time to make a comment on that …”

Griffen spoke more. The sharks didn’t care. There was chum in the water.

Asked how he heard the news, Griffen, for a fourth time, refused to take the hook. He immediately attempted to deflect, but added that they’re going to miss Adrian.

But, he added, “Like they always say, the ship’s going to keep on sailing. When I’m done playing football, when everybody’s done playing football, there’s going to be new guys coming in at all times …”

Griffen kept speaking. The sharks quit listening.

Asked how the players found out about the news, which broke after midnight that morning, Griffen finally started to show chinks in the armor. Enough already.

“It’s been on social media … DUH!!” Griffen said, clearly agitated by the never-ending round of questioning. “You’re going to read it. The best running back I’ve ever seen play the game is out. You’re going to hear it from everywhere. But, at this time, we’re focused on the New Orleans Saints …”

Griffen didn’t stop talking at that point, but the sharks lost interest and waited until he stopped.

He was asked if the coaches talked to him about it. Griffen responded they talked about the New Orleans Saints.

The next question got shot down before it finished. Starting with “Did they talk to you about them …” – to which Griffen replied, “The New Orleans Saints? Yeah, they did.”

At this point, a Vikings employee announced that it’s time to wrap up the questioning.

Asked about the uncertainty of the length of Peterson’s absence, Griffen gave those looking for a sound bite or a quote what they wanted.

“It hurts,” Griffen said. “We all want the guy to play. It’s just an unfortunate situation that he’s in. He’s got to leave it in God’s hands and go out and just pray and keep high hopes. We support him. We love him. At the end of the day, we’ve just got to go out there and still play football. That’s the bottom line.”

Undaunted under time constraints, Hail Mary questions were thrown. The only sound-bite quality response was, “I would say, Adrian, I love you, I support you and that’s it. What else can you say? It’s a mess right now and we’ve just got to focus on New Orleans.”

At no point during any of the gang-style questioning was Griffen asked about Drew Brees or the Saints as a team. Perhaps that is the lasting impression that exemplifies what other players who entered their own locker room Wednesday experienced. It’s rare when a player has to bring the line of questioning back to why he is sitting in front of his locker.

On Wednesday, that didn’t matter.

Kudos to Griffen. If fans didn’t think of him as a team leader prior to the media tsunami that rolled through Winter Park Wednesday, they may have a different opinion now. He weathered the storm and gave the sharks the meat they needed.

John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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