Vikings' Everson Griffen on his mental health: 'I've learned it's OK to seek help'

Minnesota Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen is truly taking life one day at a time, one moment at a time.

Griffen admitted he just wasn’t himself last year and missed five games to address concerns for his mental health after an incident at a downtown Minneapolis hotel. He spoke during offseason conditioning back in April and said, “I had a lot going on in my personal life.”

In 11 games and 10 starts last year, he finished with 33 tackles and 5.5 sacks.

He looked a lot like his old self last Sunday as the Vikings’ defense dominated in a Week 1 28-12 win over the Atlanta Falcons at U.S. Bank Stadium. Griffen got one of the team’s four sacks on Falcons’ quarterback Matt Ryan, and hit him on two other occasions.

He had an extra hop in his step in the Vikings’ locker room Thursday, as the team gets ready to head to Lambeau Field to face their NFC North rival, the Green Bay Packers.

Vikings’ head coach Mike Zimmer was very complimentary of Griffen on Monday.

“He looked a lot like when he was in the Pro Bowl,” Zimmer said.

Griffen is a three-time Pro Bowl selection, most recently in 2017. In his own words, he’s literally taking life one day at a time.

“Just staying true to myself each and every day. I’m not going to say it’s easy, but each and every day I go in with the right mindset and try to win the day, try to win the second, try to win the moment and try to just help this team win,” Griffen said. “It felt good to be back out there with my boys, and being myself, being me. I love this game of football, and I’m just happy to be able to go out there each and every day and play it the way I know how to do it now.”

What’s the biggest thing he learned from last season? When something isn’t right, don’t be too proud to ask for help.

“My goal right now is just to keep on doing what I’m doing. Win the day, win the moment, enjoy it, stick to my guns, stick to the people that I have in my corner that’s helping me each and every day. This biggest thing I’ve learned is it’s OK to seek help. It’s OK to get help. It’s OK to reach out to somebody and ask for help. It feels good, I’m just happy to be back and happy to be back in this locker room,” Griffen said.

He added, “I just know that if I can stay the course, I’m making an impact with a lot of people. That’s my job, that’s what I want to do is stay the course for my family first and foremost, my wife and kids, and for this team. The Vikings organization took care of me during my hard times.”

Griffen even cracked a smile and joked about Packers’ left tackle David Bakhtiari while speaking with reporters at his locker Thursday. He gets to face one of the better offensive linemen in the NFL twice per year.

“Trying to know him better than I know my phone number. He holds pretty good. He still holds, he finds a way, he’s a good holder,” Griffen said with a laugh. “He gets it done, but he’s a good player too, David Bakhtiari. I rank him on the top. Each and every year, we have a battle. He’s my top three left tackles in the game for sure, so it’s always a fun opportunity to go up against him and have fun.”

He’s having fun playing football again. Taking football and life one day at a time for the veteran, now in his 10th season, is what matters the most.