The Minnesota Vikings locked up Everson Griffen with a four-year extension. Even though he’ll be 35 at contract’s end, the extension was the right move.
June 17 is a day I’ll never forgot for two reasons. First, I had the honor of being a groomsmen in my childhood best friend’s wedding. Second, I met someone that I never expected to meet. The one and only Everson Griffen.
My reaction was that of an ultimate fangirl when the heavily built, Pro Bowl defensive end for the Minnesota Vikings walked into the dressing room. Having to share the room with another wedding party at the venue, Griffen walking in as part of that wedding party was like a dream come true. In fact, there’s a good chance he caught me staring at him for a few minutes straight as he sat on a chair at the other end of the room.
After a few minutes of shock, another groomsmen and I looked at one another whispering to each other in high pitch voices, “Is that Everson Griffen?!”
Neither of us answering one another, just equally in speechless amazement of who was in the room.
In that moment, everything in me wanted to introduce myself to the Vikings captain, but I froze up. I missed my chance, as he left the room for the wedding he was attending.
It’s safe to say I felt like an utter failure.
But, fast forward to after the wedding, I was on my way to the bathroom and there he was. Griffen. Standing right at the entrance of the other reception room.
This time, I wasn’t going to miss my chance. I marched right up to him, shook his hand and was able to get a photo with one of my favorite Vikings players ever. Here’s the proof:
Luckily, I will get to see the Vikings star more after he signed a four-year extension on Wednesday. Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported the terms of the deal on Twitter:
Griffen, 29, has two years left on his current deal, meaning that the extension locks him up for six years. After signing the deal, the Vikings captain discussed the extension with ESPN, saying:
"“I mean it means I am a Viking for life and my appreciation is high man and I appreciate each day I step onto the football field.”"
“A Viking for life,” I love the sound of that.
Griffen is arguably the top player on the defense and brings a strong leadership presence to a squad that lost long-time linebacker Chad Greenway. Undoubtedly, the production and leadership he brings is an asset Minnesota is going to love to have for the rest of his career.
Yet, some are concerned that the extension is not going to turn out in Minnesota’s favor given he will be 35 at the end of his contract. In a league where longevity is tested, not too many players stay successful into their mid to late 30s. This makes sense given the physical nature of the sport.
But, Griffen doesn’t think anyone needs to worry. In an interview with the Pioneer Press, Griffen said:
"“I was fortunate to sit behind Jared (Allen) for four years, so I don’t have all the wear and tear on my body like the people who get thrown into the fire from the beginning. It shows (the Vikings) have extreme confidence and faith in me, and that they believe in my ability to go out there and help this team win a championship.”"
He’s right. Given his limited role early in his career, he should still have plenty left in the tank. If you aren’t convinced, just look at another Vikings defensive end who’s produced into his 30s and had a similar start to his career.
That is,10-year veteran Brian Robison.
Like Griffen, Robison didn’t get a full-time starting gig with the Vikings until his fifth season. Last season, the defensive end finished with 7.5 sacks and 3 forced fumbles at the age of 33, arguably his best season as a pro. He also did this with emerging second-year player Danielle Hunter playing big minutes behind him. Often times, this resulted in him moving to defensive tackle in passing situations, where he still caused havoc.
Not to take anything away from Robison’s success, but Griffen is on a different level than him when it comes to his play on the field. He’s also a freak of nature physically. So, as long as he stays in rock solid shape, I am not concerned about him slowing down any time soon. Essentially, if Robison can do what he’s doing at his age, there’s no doubt that Griffen can do more.
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Of course, he’s going to age. At 35, he probably won’t be the same player he was at 29, but that doesn’t mean that he won’t play a major factor for the Vikings in six years from now. Actually, I’d call you crazy if you think he doesn’t.
All things considered, Griffen’s extension was unquestionably the right move. It not only locks up one of the NFL’s top defensive ends, but one of the game’s top leaders. There’ll be naysayers that suggest the Vikings jumped the gun on an extension. Yet, if anyone can prove them wrong, it’s Everson Griffen.
With that, here’s to the 23 sacks and Super Bowl ring he promised me and for a successful rest of his career with the Vikings!
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