EAGAN, Minn. - Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer has his hands full, trying to prepare a team rebounding from a humiliating loss for a huge game against one of the NFL's best. And he has just three more days to do it.
Still, Zimmer has more on his mind than football: Namely, the well-being of Everson Griffen, a defensive star whose recent struggles have become front page news.
"The only thing that we’re concerned about for Everson isn’t anything do with football, it’s about him getting better," Zimmer reflected. "In the five years I’ve been here I’ve always loved Everson and the effort he puts out, the work that he does…. The chance to count on him at game time, even in practice."
Zimmer opened his Tuesday press conference with a general comment about the challenges presented by the high-powered Los Angeles Rams this Thursday night, but when he opened for questions the topic was Griffen's status. Zimmer made it clear that Griffen is missed both on the field and in the locker room, but said there are more important things to be worried about.
"He’s obviously been a really really good (role) model for us, and obviously he’s going through some tough times now," Zimmer said, while not commenting on the specifics of police reports chronicling Griffen's recent incidents. "I just hope for the best for him. In the long run, he's a really good kid."
When asked if Griffen's absence and the concern of teammates had anything to do with Sunday's blowout at the hands of Buffalo, Zimmer was quick with an answer.
"I don’t think so. We didn’t play good, and I’m not one to sit up here and make excuses about things," Zimmer insisted. "A lot of things go on with a lot of teams, and like I said all along, it’s about how you handle it, and how you go out and prepare and play, and so I’ll never use that as an excuse."