EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Minnesota Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen returned to the practice field Friday, two days after his mother had passed away, and said he felt “safe” being around the team.
Griffen’s mother, Sabrina Scott, died Wednesday at Griffen’s Chaska, Minn., home while he was at Winter Park for team meetings. Griffen received the tragic news from Eden Prairie police after being called to coach Leslie Frazier’s office.
“Just shocking,” Griffen said Friday, recalling the moment he was told. “My mom was 100 percent healthy. We’ll find out soon what the cause was, and we’ve just got to, I know she’s watching over us right now. So, whatever I can do on the field for her. She loved watching me play. That’s why I’m back here, to show her that I’m doing this for her. Not just for her, but for me, too, to grow into the man I’m becoming and just working hard right now.”
Griffen, the team’s fourth-round pick out of USC in 2010, missed practice Thursday, and Frazier said he was excused from the team and given as much time as he needed. Griffen was back with the Vikings on Friday and will travel with them as they head to Washington for a Sunday afternoon game.
“My mom, she would have wanted me to come back,” Griffen said. “Becoming a man, I’ve got a family on the way, just got engaged, so it’s not about me no more. It’s about my family, soon to be, and my family I’ve got right now, my brother, my dad, my stepdad, just keeping them strong again; keeping them going. That’s why my mom made me so strong, to help the rest of the family.”
Scott had been visiting Griffen, 24, and was staying at his home. No cause of death has been released. The death was “completely unexpected” according to Frazier on Thursday.
Griffen, who plays the game with a lot of emotion, stood strong while talking to reporters Friday but had to pause for a moment while describing his mom.
“Very, very hard for my family,” Griffen said. “But my momma, she was a very strong person. She would just want us to stay strong and keep our paths that we’re going on. None of this would be possible without her. She’s in a better place now, and I just want to say, ‘Momma, I love you.’ It’s going to be a fight, and we just got to keep fighting.”
Griffen, a backup defensive end who’s become a pass-rushing specialist, has been one of the key members of a defense that has turned itself around in the past three wins. He’s tied with Jared Allen for the team lead with three sacks this season, just one off Griffen’s career-high set last season as he progressed into a hybrid defensive line/linebacker role in passing situations.
Frazier and many of Griffen’s teammates came to Griffen’s house Wednesday night to offer their support.
“This is the only reason I’m here, because I feel safe here,” Griffen said. “If I didn’t feel safe, my mom, she would tell me. I feel safe here and, at home, so it’s always good to have that security and knowing that other people got your back and love. It kind of eases the pain a little bit, but it’s still tremendous and deep burning inside and you know you just got to keep on the same path and keep moving on.”
Griffen is from Avondale, Ariz., where he was the Scout.com Player of the Year for the state and a consensus All-American at Agua Fria High School.