Griffen celebrates

Minnesota Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen (97) reacts after a play during the second half last Thursday against the Detroit Lions.


The pied piper of the Vikings locker room strolled in still beaming about the birth of his third son on Thanksgiving Day.

For the record, Everson Griffen and his wife, Tiffany, settled on Sebastian Gregory for the boy’s name over those that poured in over social media after Griffen crowd-sourced the national television audience of Minnesota’s holiday victory over the Detroit Lions by revealing a T-shirt message that solicited names.

“Crazy names,” Griffen said.

There was Thunderbolt, and Mike Zimmer. And Zygi Woodson, a play off owner Zygi Wilf.

“Sebastian — he’s a little sea bass,” Griffen said. “We’re not done. I love those kids. I plan on having four or five. I want a big family.”

Defensive tackle Tom Johnson was not surprised by Griffen’s stunt. It was all in character.

“He’s like the 8-ball, the joker,” Johnson said. “He likes to get everyone going. He’s one of the most emotional guys I’ve played with. It’s all on his sleeve. He definitely gets the crowd going, gets us going. Very enthusiastic at all times.”

In many ways, Griffen is the biggest kid in the Vikings family, a wisecracking run-on sentence who keeps the locker room loose and the quarterback pressure coming.

He is tied with Arizona’s Chandler Jones for the NFL lead with 12 sacks this season, which already matches his 2014 career high. Griffen tied a team record with a sack in eight straight games to start the season but was blanked in his ninth game. So, he immediately started a new streak with two against the Lions.

“It’s not about sacks. It’s not about tackles. It’s not about making the Pro Bowl,” Griffen said. “It’s about beating the Atlanta Falcons and getting to the big prize.”

He was referring to Sunday’s opponent at Mercedes-Benz Stadium and Super Bowl LII on Feb. 4 at U.S. Bank Stadium — knowing, of course, there is a lot that has to happen in between for the 9-2 Vikings to become the first team to qualify for a Super Bowl in their home stadium.

“We’ve got to get battle tested,” Griffen said. “We’ve got to be able to be disciplined, do our job and play together. We’re all in right now with what’s at hand and that’s the Atlanta Falcons. They’re playing well. They’re clicking on all cylinders. Our goal is to stop the run, affect (quarterback) Matt Ryan and get back there and win the game.”

Griffen is the alpha dog on a defensive line that is among the best in the NFL at stopping the run and harassing quarterbacks.

He has always had the speed to beat a left tackle around the edge, and the strength to bull rush his way to quarterbacks. But Griffen has worked hard on refining his technique to win the hand-to-hand combat that so often dictates how these one-on-one matchups are decided.

Griffen, whose 60 career sacks are tied with Kevin Williams for eighth all-time among Vikings, also has the experience to set up left tackles and beat them with deception as much as hand-to-hand combat, which he credits to working with defensive line coach Andre Patterson.

“I’m able to lock in for four quarters and do my job,” Griffen said. “In the past, I used to get distracted. Now, I can get dialed in and see what the tackle’s giving me, see his set and I’m really able to break him down during the course of a game and win the battle when it’s time to win.”


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