Griffin, 31, had a relationship with Vikings defensive backs coach Jerry Gray dating back to when Gray was the defensive coordinator of the Tennessee Titans from 2011-13. Even after Gray moved on from the Titans organization, the two stayed in touch.
“When he got the defensive coordinator job, we had a great time in Tennessee, did a lot of good things, and when he got released he stayed in contact,” Griffin said. “When they fired coach (Mike Munchak) and all the coaches moved around we stayed in contact. I congratulated him when he got the job here in Minnesota and when we see each other we speak. We text whether it’s fathers day, Christmas, whatever it may be, he always continues to shoot text messages.”
The veteran safety was released by the Titans following the 2015 regular season after being with the organization for nine years. He said that Gray reached out to him right after his release was announced to see if he planned to retire or not.
Griffin wasn’t considering retirement, so Gray continued to keep in touch with him from there. Griffin knew that the Vikings had talked with his agent at the combine and once free agency officially opened up they sent him an offer and he knew it was going to be a good fit.
Not only was he still close with Gray, but Griffin has also seen how head coach Mike Zimmer has been able to revitalize the careers of multiple defensive backs. Now, he is hoping Zimmer can do the same with him.
“I saw last year, just watching him on the sideline and watching and seeing how the guys here in Minnesota, how they played for him. You could just see that he’s a great guy,” Griffin explained. “And seeing some of the things he did when he was in Cincinnati, some guys like Reggie Nelson, different guys that they felt like was kind of going on the downhill of their career, but they resurrected. They gave Terence Newman an opportunity from the Cowboys and he did great things there. Now he’s here and he did good things here. So one thing I can tell you from a defensive back standpoint, it seems like he knows how to put guys in the right position to make plays and to let them continue to thrive in this league. Again, that played a big factor into coming here.”
Griffin knows that nothing is guaranteed for him in Minnesota and knows that he is going to have to come in and compete if he hopes to start. The Vikings also re-signed Andrew Sendejo, and have Antone Exum Jr. and Anthony Harris on the roster – all of whom started in games last season. But even if Griffin doesn’t end up starting he still plans to do whatever he can to help the team.
“A lot of people ask whether I’m going to start or not and the way I look at it is, I’m a team player and I’m a humble guy. The way I look at it is you’ve got to compete. There’s nothing in this league that’s given to you and you’ve got to compete each and every day.”
It will be interesting to see how well Griffin can transition into a new defense after his productivity seemed to drop a little on the field last season. But he seems to believe the Vikings organization and coaching staff gives him the best opportunity to resurrect his career.