Another day, another Everson Griffen angry moment in the Minnesota Vikings locker room.
On Wednesday, Griffen got riled up when asked questions about Monday’s decisive loss to the 49ers and made the following statement: “We’re going to beat Detroit. I’m very angry right now, as you can see, because we prepared too hard to lose (Monday). But we’re going to go out and get them.”
It begged the question, what did you expect him say? We hope to keep it close? I’m not sure we can beat those guys?
If a poll of every player in the locker room asked them if they thought they were going to win Sunday, the vote would be unanimous – or the guys who said they didn’t know or answered “no” would be on the waiver wire the next day.
It’s what players do.
Yet, the Detroit newspapers – Detroit Free Press and later The Detroit News – both ran the quote in stories that contained the headline that Griffen “guaranteed” a win. Despite accurately reflecting what Griffen actually said – no mention of a guarantee was made – the story took on a life of its own.
The “guarantee” headline was picked up by ESPN, Reddit, the Minneapolis StarTribune and countless blogs and websites and passed along as being factual to what Griffen said in his intense 2½-minute monologue with the local media.
A day later, he was talking again, this time expressing his anger toward how his comments were received.
“If you want to be great around here, you should be angry,” Griffen said. “We’ve got a winning mindset around here. You want to win games. Every game you want to win. Every game is a must-win game. You should want to win every single game. It’s not about guaranteeing something, it’s must-winning. We’re in the NFL. You want to win. You don’t want to lose.”
No matter how it was perceived, head coach Mike Zimmer just wants to see performance on the field.
“I don’t care,” Zimmer said when asked about Griffen’s comments. “We got to go play so it doesn’t really matter. I heard the quote, I don’t think he exactly said that, but I don’t think it matters who he’s playing this week, he’s just upset.”
Griffen was asked to respond to the interpretation of his guarantee misquote and he reiterated that his anger was based upon needing to win this week, not only to avoid dropping to 0-2, but to get a division win, which were hard to come by last season.
“Every game is a must-win,” Griffen said. “I’m not looking at the game as a guarantee game, but it’s a must-win game. It’s a division game, so it’s a must-win game. I’m trying to get the boys going by getting them fired up and getting them ready to play Detroit.”
Griffen said the post-49ers angst was based primarily on the lack of emotion the Vikings displayed Monday night, getting dominated on both sides of the ball effectively from start to finish.
As a team captain voted on by the players, he sees it as his role to make sure that the intensity level of everyone is as high as his is and he’s taking his role as a leader very seriously.
“You’ve always got to fire them up, but me being a captain and me and my team holding me accountable and respecting me as a player and knowing that I’m doing the right things, yeah, it’s big,’’ Griffen said. “So it’s me as a captain going out there and getting the boys ready.”
What perhaps angered Griffen the most about the misleading headlines that were associated to him was that it reached all the way into the Lions facility and became a Twitter re-tweet with a hashtag associated to it.
Lions running back Joique Bell re-tweeted one of the stories from the Detroit newspapers, along with #ChargedUp. Asked to respond to the unintended floodgate that was opened, Griffen said he doesn’t care if it has become the modern-day version of bulletin board material.
“You don’t see me going on Twitter or doing that,” Griffen said. “It’s not about that. It’s not about me being an individual player, it’s about the team. It’s always about the team. It’s always about the team no matter what.”
Whether or not the Vikings get the sour taste out of their mouths by beating the Lions on Sunday or not, this time around, Griffen said, it won’t be due to lack of preparation. He remains fired up and is looking to lead by example.
“It always starts with practice,” Griffen said. “I’m a true believer that what you do on the practice field you’re going to do in the game. If I can go out there and practice like I’m doing and lead the guys up – it’s all about leading. I’m very short of words. Actions speak louder. We’re ready to play ball. We’re a good team and we’re ready to show it.”
A day after making an impassioned statement about his angst over the team’s lackluster performance Monday night, the guarantee talk may die down. But if headline writers continue to fun fast and loose with the facts, perhaps Griffen’s Thursday statements will be construed as a Super Bowl guarantee.
It wouldn’t be shocking given the last 24 hours.