Everson Griffen is back in the NFC North and he's out to prove a point.
Griffen is a Detroit Lion by way of a trade from the Dallas Cowboys, a team with whom Griffen spent just seven games before he was dealt. The division matters, of course, because of who else is in the division: the Minnesota Vikings.
Griffen spent his first 10 seasons in Minnesota, appearing in 147 games over a decade's time and racking up 258 tackles, 74.5 sacks, nine forced fumbles, two interceptions and two defensive touchdowns. That's pretty darn commendable, and if you ask Griffen's former coach, he might use a common term to describe such contributions.
"Everson was a good player for us," Zimmer said, per the St. Paul Pioneer Press' Chris Tomasson. "I wish him well, just not this week."
Good, not great, wasn't good enough for Griffen.
"I'm ready to play. This is the best I've felt in a long time, and I got a little frustrated when I read that comment, what Zimmer said about, 'Everson was a good player,'" Griffen said Thursday. "Coach Zimmer just wasn't a good coach, he was a great coach to me, so for him to call me a good player, that kind of hurts my feelings. On Sunday, I'm really looking forward to playing the Vikings and showing them that I am a great player.
"I'm gonna go out there and execute. I'm not going to let the emotions get to me. I'm going to stay locked in and I'm going to go do my job."
Griffen was a late addition to the Cowboys roster following an offseason that included a statement that he wouldn't be back in Minnesota after a decade together, the arrival and relative explosion of a pandemic, and a late shift to Dallas, which Griffen painted as his desired destination all along. Griffen recorded 2.5 sacks, but with the Cowboys suffering key injuries and underperforming even when healthy, the fit -- veteran with what should have been a contending team -- no longer made sense, so he was shipped elsewhere.
That elsewhere happened to be southeast of Minnesota, but in the same division. Detroit hasn't been consistent on a week-to-week basis, showing flashes of competitive play often followed by equally disappointing performances, but the Lions have something special to play for this week. Griffen isn't being bashful about the importance of this meeting, either, expressing his emotions by paraphrasing a disgruntled Cash Money Records rapper who once took his problems to a morning talk show.
"I miss Zimmer," Griffen feverishly explained, "so when Zimmer said that about that, I'm a 'good player,' all right, we're gonna see who's a good player on Sunday, all right? That's what I got for him.
"They gonna put some respect on my name, he gonna put respect on my name, that's all I'm saying. He just wasn't a good coach to me, he was a great coach. He helped me improve, he helped me grow. I don't ever talk bad about people, so for him to call me a good player, all right, I got something for him on Sunday."
Minnesota is still flying high following its upset win over Green Bay on Sunday, a game in which Dalvin Cook returned from injury to shred the Packers defense and singlehandedly carry the Vikings to victory. Cook, a former teammate of Griffen's, will be one of many familiar faces in purple, even after a healthy amount of personnel changes have left the Vikings with a bottom-third defense in 2020.
Griffen will get a chance to prove whether they should still want him in Minnesota -- or at least consider him to be something better than "good."