EAGAN, Minn. — The Minnesota Vikings sent psychologists to the home of defensive end Everson Griffen on Wednesday to work with police on guiding him through another alarming mental health situation, as the 12th-year player refused to come out of his house because he feared intruders.
Griffen, who took a leave from the team in 2018 for mental health treatment, posted on Instagram screenshots of middle-of-the-night text messages to his agent, Brian Murphy, that were pleas for help because he said people were trying to kill him. Griffen also posted a video depicting him with a gun that he said was purchased legally. Those posts have since been deleted.
The Vikings said they have had representatives at Griffen's home along with the team's mental health professionals from the early morning on in cooperation with law enforcement in Minnetrista, the suburb of Minneapolis where Griffen and his family live.
“Our only concern at this time is the safety and well-being of Everson and his family,” the Vikings said in a statement.
Speaking at the start of his usual Wednesday news conference, coach Mike Zimmer said he couldn’t offer much information. Asked if Griffen was safe, Zimmer said he didn't know.
As for whether Griffen would play Sunday when the Vikings face the San Francisco 49ers, Zimmer said: “No, that’s really not our concern right now. It’s really about him.”
Minnetrista police, in a news release, said officers responded to a 911 call at 3 a.m. from Griffen at his residence. Griffen said on the 911 call that there were intruders in the home and that he fired a shot but no one was hurt.
When police arrived, no intruder was located. Police said they were confident Griffen was alone in the home and that they were continuing to work with him to resolve the situation.
Griffen, a three-time Pro Bowl pick, missed five games in 2018 as he dealt with his mental health.
According to police at the time, Griffen had made comments about people trying to kill him. He was involved in a disturbance the day before a game at a local hotel, then later showed up shirtless at teammate Trae Waynes’ house. Griffen was taken to a hospital, but he jumped out of the ambulance at one point before police talked him back in.
Griffen was never arrested or suspected of committing any crimes, but he underwent a mental health evaluation. He then went on a team-supported leave, returning later in the season and finishing with 5½ sacks in 11 games. In an interview two years later with the NFL Network, Griffen said he spent the last three months of that 2018 season living in a sober house.
Fresh off two straight wins that put the Vikings in control of a playoff spot, the mood was somber as the team practiced on Wednesday. Running back Dalvin Cook and defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson both said they'd tried to reach Griffen on his phone but had not heard back from him.
“We’re just trying to make sure he’s OK,” Cook said. “That’s our brother first, and we want to make sure his family is OK and make sure he gets the proper treatment and love that he needs to get through the time that he’s going through right now.”
Said co-defensive coordinator Andre Patterson, who has coached Griffen on the defensive line for seven years: “Everson is like a little brother to me. I just want him to be safe."
Griffen rejoined the Vikings this season after playing for Dallas and Detroit in 2020. He played for Minnesota from 2010-19 after being drafted in the fourth round out of USC. The 33-year-old has five sacks in nine games this season.
Griffen and his wife, Tiffany, have three children. He posted a moving tribute to her on Instagram on Tuesday, in honor of their youngest child's birthday, 4-year-old Sebastian.
The Vikings were focused on Griffen's well-being, not about his absence from the lineup, but their defensive line is already depleted. Defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson was placed on the COVID-19 reserve list on Tuesday and will not play on Sunday. Nose tackle Michael Pierce injured his elbow almost two months ago and will miss at least one more game. Defensive end Danielle Hunter is out for the season with a torn pectoral muscle.