It was meant that Everson Griffen would find his way to the Dallas Cowboys, a destiny beginning at birth.
The former longtime Vikings defensive end was born and raised in Arizona, attended college at USC, and spent his first decade in the NFL in Minnesota. He had zero affiliation to Dallas or the Cowboys prior to landing a one-year deal on Aug. 16.
Except for one formative link.
“It was my favorite football team growing up. You know, Emmitt Smith,” Griffen said Thursday, explaining his decision to join the Cowboys. “People actually don’t know, I’m named after [legendary Dallas safety] Everson Walls. He was number 24 here. I think he played safety, linebacker, something like that. They’ve always been my favorite team.”
Nostalgia aside, Griffen made clear his rationale for choosing Dallas over the likes of other Super Bowl contenders in Seattle or Green Bay.
For a 32-year-old with 74.5 sacks, four Pro Bowls and an All-Pro nod to his name, he’s admittedly chasing the ever-elusive ring — and the Cowboys, he believes, are the club to scratch that itch.
“I look at the pieces they’ve got here with Dak, Coop, Lamb, Mike, so I think they have the weapons. Zeke, offensive line, all around. The weapons are put in place and it’s up to the players and the coaches to go out there on Sundays and win the games.
“But on the defensive side, we’re stacked: D-Law, Aldon, me. We’ve got a lot of good guys on that side of the ball. We’re just excited to play football and excited to win. That’s our main objective is to win here.”
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The Acclimation Process
Griffen put pen to paper after the Cowboys had opened training camp, and his arrival was delayed by mandatory COVID-19 testing. He’s since gained entry inside The Star but hasn’t done much practicing with his new mates.
The team, careful to avoid a repeat Gerald McCoy disaster, has eased in Griffen at a glacial pace, limiting him to individual drills. And although in agreement with Dallas’ handling, Griffen boasted that he’s “ready” and chomping at the bit to expand his practice repertoire.
“I think Sunday is the day I get to do a little more,” he said Thursday, via the Dallas Morning News.
As of now, Griffen is considered the tentative starter at right defensive end, replacing McCoy. He may find himself in a rotation as the Cowboys also will look to get Aldon Smith, Tyrone Crawford, and rookie Bradlee Anae pass-rushing opportunities opposite DeMarcus Lawrence.
“A baby has to crawl and roll before he walks. I’m not trying to come in and think I know it all,” Griffen said, via The Athletic. “I’m listening and learning as well. I’m a show-you better than a tell-you. Whatever they need from me, I’m gonna do at a high level.”
Jersey Number Finalized
Griffen wore No. 97 throughout his Vikings tenure, but those digits, belonging to second-year Cowboys DT Trysten Hill, were unavailable. “Were” being the keyword. Griffen is now rocking 97 on the team’s official website, with Hill moving to No. 72.
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL