Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen was growing increasingly paranoid and feared someone was trying to kill him in the weeks and days before troubling incidents Saturday at a downtown Minneapolis hotel and in his Minnetrista neighborhood sent law enforcement looking for him, according to police reports released Tuesday.
The behavior prompted the Vikings to ban a disruptive Griffen last week from practice and seek mental health treatment, the reports said, which also noted that the 30-year-old husband and father is not suspected of a crime.
By the end of Saturday afternoon, Griffen was taken in an ambulance to a mental health facility, but not before another outburst prompted police to intervene and escort him to the emergency vehicles’ destination.
Griffen did not play in Sunday’s 27-6 loss to Buffalo at U.S. Bank Stadium. He was on last week’s injury report as sidelined by a knee injury. On Monday, the Vikings listed him on the injury report as not having practiced because of “knee/not injury related.”
“We’re going to do everything we possibly can, not only to help Everson, but all of the players on our team, and not just them but their families as well,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said Tuesday.
Griffen remains at a mental health facility for treatment, NFL sources have confirmed.
Griffen first drew police attention about 1:30 p.m. Saturday at the Hotel Ivy in downtown Minneapolis, where the three-time Pro Bowl player was threatening to assault staff employees and lying on the lobby floor, according to a Minneapolis police incident report.
Emergency audio dispatch revealed as events unfolded that he “said that if someone doesn’t let him in his room that he is going to shoot someone,” but no gun was seen.
An officer met with Griffen’s wife at a park Saturday in Mound and recounted events leading up to the hotel incident:
She said her husband awoke in the middle of the night on Sept. 16 and left the home. She said he does this at times when he is fighting “demons” in his head. She said he returned Wednesday only to leave an hour later and not return until Saturday morning.
She said Griffen wasn’t making sense, became combative and ordered her out of the Minnetrista home. He then went to the Hotel Ivy, which is where he stays during the week. She said Griffen needs to be medicated for his mental struggles and had been without sleep for days.
The officer called Griffen on his cellphone, and Griffen said he was going to be gone for about a week and was rambling incoherently before hanging up.
Police learned from Vikings player development director Les Pico that Griffen “has been really struggling for the past few weeks,” the police reports read. Pico said Griffen “has been explosive, screaming and yelling” at practice, the reports continued. Pico called Griffen paranoid and prone to repeating himself.
The team notified Griffen and his agent Thursday that the defensive star was banned from practice until his mental health is evaluated.
Griffen’s wife then called and said he was at teammate Trae Waynes’ home down the road. Griffen was trying to break in, had jumped through bushes and was shirtless. Within minutes, Griffen’s wife notified police that he was in a pickup truck with someone who didn’t know what to do with him. The man had encountered Griffen at a gas station, and delivered him home.
The man was shaking upon arrival at Griffen’s home and anxious to leave because “he didn’t feel safe” being around this person he didn’t know personally seated next to him and ordering him around. Even with that, the man gave the bare-chested Griffen a sweatshirt and declined an officer’s offer to retrieve it.
Police met Griffen outside late Saturday afternoon, and he was making comments about “777” — having to do with angels — and that he went to Waynes’ home because “God made me do it.”
Griffen agreed with the officer to be taken for mental health treatment. But soon after the ambulance was en route, Griffen fled the vehicle. By the time police arrived, he had returned and had his hands in the air. Eventually, Griffen agreed to continue the trip under police escort.
Zimmer said he hadn’t spoken to Griffen since last week. “In the long run, he’s a really good kid,” Zimmer said, confirming that Griffen would not have played Sunday because of the knee injury and that Griffen will not travel to Los Angeles with the team for Thursday’s game against the Rams.
“I’ve always loved Everson ... He’s always been a good model for us and he’s going through some tough times right now,” Zimmer said. “I just hope the best for him.”
Asked whether the team could have ensured Griffen received a mental health evaluation, either on-site or by taking him to a facility, Zimmer said, “Honestly, I don’t know. That’s not really my area of expertise, and so, I don’t know the answer to that, to be honest with you.”
The Vikings selected Griffen in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL Draft. He has been chosen for the Pro Bowl the past three seasons and received a four-year, $58 million contract extension from the team in 2017 that put him under contract through the 2022 season. He was elected a team captain for the third consecutive season in 2018.
Griffen was arrested twice in three days in Los Angeles in 2011, following his rookie season, for public intoxication and driving with an invalid license.
Star Tribune staff writers Liz Sawyer and Ben Goessling contributed to this report.