The Minnesota Vikings clinched a playoff spot after last Sunday’s win over the New York Giants, and veteran defensive end Brian Robison had an important message for his good friend Everson Griffen after the game.
“I was just telling Everson Griffen to not take this for granted because you never know when it’s going to come back again,” he said. “You go from 2009, you’re in the NFC Championship Game and you think you’re going to be doing this for years to come and then you have one winning season since. Never take it for granted; you have to treat every day like it’s your last.”
Enjoying the ride and enjoying the opportunity they have in front of them has been something that veterans such as Chad Greenway, Robison and Adrian Peterson have been preaching to the younger players on the team. All three of them were around for the 2009 NFC Championship Game and thought they were going to be playing in those types of games for years to come.
It was a quick reality check for all of them, though, as they only reached the playoffs once more after that and it took a historic season from Peterson in 2012 to do so.
The Vikings have a lot of young players on their roster and the veterans want to make sure they take time to enjoy being in the playoffs and playing in a game where they are competing for the NFC North division title because who knows for sure when it will happen again?
“They’ve all stressed the importance of just enjoying the moment and living in the moment but at the same time having a sense of urgency about you,” second-year linebacker Anthony Barr said of the veterans. “I’ve definitely appreciated the season and where we are right now as opposed to last season, so I think we’ve taken a step as a team. We just need to continue to grow.”
Making sure to enjoy the moment, but also treat this final game and the playoffs just like any other game, can often be a difficult balance. There is still a lot of work for the team to do. If they are simply settled and happy with what they have already done there is the possibility the season could be over sooner rather than later.
“I played in one playoff game since I’ve been here and I know about any time we’re able to get into the dance, any time you get the opportunity to play in the playoffs, you got to enjoy every moment because you never know when you’re going to get back here again,” Griffen said. “The biggest thing for us to do is find a way to win and become NFC North champs and take it on into the playoffs.”
Cornerback Xavier Rhodes was drafted after the team made their most recent playoff appearance in 2012, so he has experienced far more lows than highs during his time in Minnesota. He can appreciate what the team has done almost more than anyone else on the roster.
He knows that they need to be thankful for the position they are in, but not just when it comes to the playoffs. They have the opportunity to play the game they love for a living, so he knows what the veteran players are preached applies to not just the playoffs, but life in general.
“You got to enjoy every moment – life is short,” Rhodes said. “Not too many people can stand here and say they play in this league or have the opportunity to be in the league. Now to have the opportunity to go to the playoffs and have the opportunity to play for a divisional championship, I mean no matter what you got to appreciate everything in life, in general.”
There are a lot of things the Vikings have to be happy about this season. They went from being a 7-9 team a year ago to a 10-5 team with one last game to still play. They have already clinched a playoff berth and have the chance to clinch a division title.
It is quite a drastic change, but in the end every player on the team knows that there is still more they want to accomplish, whether they are happy with where they are currently at or not.