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John Randle: Everson Griffen 'reminds me of myself'

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  • By Nick Shook
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Everson Griffen is enjoying the best season of his eight-year career. It's no coincidence that the Minnesota Vikings are also owners of the second-best record in the NFC.

A former Vikings great has noticed the play of Griffen.

"Everson Griffen reminds me of myself," Hall of Fame defensive lineman John Randle said, via the St. Paul Pioneer Press. "I like his style. I definitely love his energy. I love his motor. He's having so much fun out there, and he makes it look like he's having just a casual day out there on the football field."

Randle went as far as calling Griffen the best pass-rusher in the NFL in a recent interview on the Rich Eisen Show.

"I gotta go with Everson Griffen, because his energy after the sack -- and I've gotten kind of close to Everson, I've talked to him on several occasions -- he reminds me of me so much with his energy, because most guys, they don't really seem like they're having fun," Randle told Eisen. "Everson is always out there having fun and playing the game the way it's supposed to be played."

Randle, the focus of a new A Football Life which premieres on NFL Network on Friday at 9 p.m. ET, racked up 137.5 career sacks over his 14-season career at a rate of one sack per 1.59 games. Griffen has recorded 61 sacks in 118 career games for a rate of one sack per 1.93 games. In 2017, Griffen recorded at least one sack in each of his first eight games before going without a quarterback takedown in Minnesota's 24-7 win over the Los Angeles Rams. He rebounded the next week with two sacks, and has three combined in his last three games.

At 29, Griffen -- who recently detailed the lengths to which he goes to keep his body in peak condition -- is experiencing his prime at the perfect time for a stifling Vikings defense that is a major reason why Minnesota is 10-3. It mirrors the impact of Randle on his Vikings.

In Randle's career-high season for sacks (which was also his age-29 season), Minnesota finished 9-7 and lost in the Divisional Round of the playoffs, but went 15-1 the next season before being upset by the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship Game. That year, Randle recorded 10.5 sacks.

Both are also rather expressive. Randle was known for his exuberant, trash-talking ways that intimidated opponents and made many despise playing against him. Griffen doesn't let a sack go unacknowledged, either.

Griffen might not yet be of Hall of Fame caliber, but his impact on the Vikings franchise is obvious. Should Minnesota ride this wave to a Lombardi Trophy, he'll join Randle among those forever remembered fondly by the faithful wearing purple.

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