Everson Griffen had permission to take as much time away from the Vikings as he wanted following the unexpected death of his mother, Sabrina Scott, on Wednesday.
Yet there he was, practicing on Friday and vowing to play for her in Sunday's game at Washington.
"My mom would have wanted me to come back," the defensive end said. "I'm becoming a man. I got a family on the way. Just got engaged. It's just not about me anymore.
"It's about my family-soon-to-be. And the family I got now. My brother, my dad, my stepdad, just keeping them strong and keeping them going. That's why my mom made me so strong, to help the rest of the family."
Scott, 52, arrived in town from Arizona last weekend to visit her son. But she died on Wednesday while Griffen was at Winter Park. Police broke the news to him in coach Leslie Frazier's office.
"Just shocking," Griffen said. "My mom was 100 percent healthy. We'll find out soon what the cause was. I know she's down watching over us now."
Scott attended last week's game against Tennessee at Mall of America Field. Griffen, who is tied for the team lead with three sacks, had two quarterback hurries in the 30-7 win.
"My mom loved watching me play," said Griffen, who is from Avondale, Ariz., and played college football at USC. "She did everything. ... She was outgoing. Everybody loved her. Just a great person to be around. Just a wonderful lady. The best mom anybody could have. I'm just happy to have a mom like that and, you know, one day we'll meet again."
Griffen's thanked his teammates for coming to his house and supporting him Wednesday night.
"Love and support; that always helps," he said. "The only reason I'm here is because I feel safe here. It kind of eases the pain a little bit, but it's still a tremendous and deep burning inside."
Griffen said the lessons his mother taught him are helping him get through this difficult time.
"My mom was a very strong person, and she would just want us to stay strong," Griffen said. "None of this is possible without her. She's in a better place now, and I just want to say, 'Mama, I love you.' "