Everson Griffen says he focused on making sure he finds the right balance between focusing on his personal life and football as he returns from a serious mental-health related issue that kept him away from the Minnesota Vikings for more than a month.
Speaking to reporters Wednesday, Griffen took full responsibility for the events that led to his absence from the team in September and apologized to those why were impacted. He added that that he’s happy to be back with the Vikings, and he’s taking a cautious approach to his return.
"I’m just excited to get back here with my team and get back to the grind," Griffen said. "It’s been hard to be away but I’m happy to be back. It’s a good feeling right now and I’m taking one day at a time and one thing at a time to get things back on track.
"This is bigger than football."
Griffen said he’s been working out over the last month and that he’s "able to play football" on Sunday if the Vikings believe he’s ready. Speaking to reporters Wednesday, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said the team isn’t pushing for him to play against the New Orleans Saints.
"The main focus isn’t getting Everson ready to play," coach Mike Zimmer said at his morning news conference. "I’m sure some people in this room have dealt with some of these things. I don’t think it’s as unique as we make it out to be.
"This is an illness and he continues to try to get better. … "We’ll see how he comes back."
Griffen played in the first two games of the season, but the situation became unmanageable when he was ruled out prior to Minnesota’s Week 3 game against the Bills.
Griffen wouldn’t go into details about the what caused him to miss time from the team and what treatment he underwent. He said he wants to tell people about his experience at the appropriate time.
"I learned a lot about the man outside of football," Griffen said, per Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. "I had a lot of time to reflect on my life and where I want to go and the decisions I made, and I just want to get better with some of my decisions that I made and just improve on them."
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