You don’t play 143 of 146 NFL games without stockpiling some scars and stories behind them.
Vikings safety Michael Griffin, a 10th-year veteran, has a few.
“Worst thing, um… I sprained my [lateral collateral ligament] in my knee,” the 31-year-old Griffin said. “Sprained that, played the rest of the game through it [last season.] I wasn’t able to play the last week, because it swelled up and I couldn’t move.”
That’s one of three missed games. Though it must have been a case of recency bias. Other injuries quickly followed from the two-time Pro Bowl safety.
“Or probably the two times I tore my labrum, dislocated my shoulder. It popped out,” Griffin said. “They popped it back in and we went inside, got X-rayed to make sure it wasn’t no bones or nothing, and then put a harness on me so it wouldn’t get worse. … And went back into the game.”
Both labrum tears occurred in his left shoulder. The first time, Griffin played through the injury in 2009 on a rookie contract. The second time, Griffin played through the injury again five years later, on a five-year, $35 million deal. No NFL defender played more snaps during that 2014 season than Griffin, who played the Titans’ final five games after suffering the dislocated shoulder and torn labrum for a 2-14 team.
Finger dislocations, knee and ankle tweaks — Griffin has played through all of that. Besides, only two of his three missed games have been caused by injuries. One came on a suspension for an illegal hit the week prior. And itwas a torn quadriceps muscle in the middle of his seventh season that forced him to miss the first NFL game.
The Titans held a 3-4 record following a 6-10 season and Griffin said he still wanted to play.
“Fortunately we had a bye week,” Griffin said. “So I tried to play when we got back versus the Rams, but they decided to have me inactive. Said ‘don’t worry about it, we’re playing the Rams. We should be able to get through this game.’ Then I came back the following — that Thursday night versus the Colts.”
He didn’t go under the knife for that one.
“It reattached on its own,” Griffin said of his quad. “Just decided not to have surgery. I tore it off from here [points to upper leg], and now it’s here [points down.]
“So I have nothing right here,” Griffin said, motioning to a few-inch gap on his upper right leg.
With more metal in his body than he’d probably care for, Griffinhas continued his NFL career on a one-year deal in Minnesota, where he’s still pushing for a job. The audition will continue Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium after the Vikings gave him a start alongside Harrison Smith last week in Seattle. Though the starting job still appears to be Andrew Sendejo’s to lose, which could leave Griffin pitted against his younger teammates forlikely two openings.
Griffin, who played through two dislocated fingers in Cincinnati this month, said he’s just savoring each moment in the NFL. That becomes clear on the practice field, where he can be seen helping out on scout teams to special teams.
“You look across the league today, there's people getting released each and every day,” Griffin said. “Like I told people back in Tennessee and what not, you never know when your name is going to be called and you go into the coach's office and they tell me they no longer need your services. You always think it's going to happen down the road, you never know when it's going to happen. For me, it happened after nine years with Tennessee. Got that phone call, got that grim reaper escort on out the building and what not.
“You just know one day it's going to happen to everybody. Some people it happens to more than once. If you can get on this field, I strongly believe you can play on the field. That's how I look at it. There's a lot of people that have 9 to 5 jobs each and every day, and you know, they work two weeks and whatever to make what we're making in one week right now, you know, going through training camp. You look at the check. Some people say it's nothing. I look at it and say it's money. That's money I look at that a lot of people would love to make what we make. Just come out on this field for two hours, whatever it may be, run around and do something you love. Why not? If you can still be out there on the field and give it all you got.”