Before the start of the regular season, players on the Minnesota Vikings roster had the opportunity to vote for team captains. There were obvious selections such as running back Adrian Peterson, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and linebacker Chad Greenway – who is the longest-tenured Viking.
The fourth player voted to be a captain by the team was defensive end Everson Griffen. This one could have been a little more surprising than the other ones, but he has earned the respect of a lot of people after everything he has been through with the organization.
Griffen had to sit and play a backup role the first few years of his career after the Vikings drafted him in 2010. He got the opportunities to play, but the starting right defensive end job belonged to Jared Allen, so Griffen decided to work hard and improve his game as much as he could.
“I’ve had talks with him several times about leadership things,” said head coach Mike Zimmer. “But the big thing with Everson was that, to me was impressive, the team voted him a captain. When you get that kind of respect from the team, that’s important, and I think that meant a lot to him.”
Being voted a captain by his teammates did in fact mean a lot to the defensive end and now he just wants to be able to continue to help lead the team to the best of his ability.
“It meant everything,” he said. “I came a long way and the only thing I can do now is keep on growing and keep on allowing this team to keep growing, man. And helping this team win and doing my job on each and every play.”
When talking about leadership styles, people often fall into two categories: a verbal leader or a lead-by-example type. Griffen has a hard time placing himself in either of those categories, though.
Every day he goes out on the practice field and works hard, trying to master his craft and showing the younger players how to do things the right way. At the same time, he is also an outspoken player and is usually the one breaking down the Vikings huddles before the start of their games.
His head coach couldn’t be happier to have a player like Griffen leading his team because not only is he a naturally gifted athlete, but he works hard to get better and cares deeply about the team.
“He’s a very energetic person who works very hard,” Zimmer said. “He’s a great teammate, but I didn’t know that about him, really, until I got here. He’s a kid you love to have. He works extremely hard and he wants to be good. When he’s out here he works really hard, in the weight room, really every place, but he helps bring a lot of excitement to the team.”
Last week the Vikings defense was on the field for a majority of the game and looked gassed for a majority of the second half.
Still, Griffen was able to muster up what could be considered his best game of the season. He tied his season high in tackles with six, recorded a season-high two sacks and also forced his first fumble of the year, which was recovered by Captain Munnerlyn and returned for a touchdown.
The Vikings have another tough task in front of them this weekend as they host the Seattle Seahawks and the team will likely need another big game from their captain if they hope to pull off the upset.