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Everson Griffen Honored to Represent Vikings at Pro Bowl

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Sack Daddy's celebration dance can now include the Hula.

Everson Griffen has been added to the Pro Bowl roster, the NFL announced Thursday. He will be joined by his family on his trip to Hawaii, where he will participate in festivities the week of the game and play in the matchup on Jan. 31.

Many believed Griffen deserved to go after the 2014 and 2015 seasons in which he led the Vikings in sacks, tackles for loss and quarterback hurries. Voting by players, coaches and fans, however, left him as an alternate. He will replace J.J. Watt.

Griffen said he was excited and honored to be making his first appearance in the NFL's annual all-star game.

"Any time you get to make the Pro Bowl it's an honor; that means you worked hard this season and you were a top player at your position," Griffen said. "It's just an honor to go out there and represent not just me, but the Minnesota Vikings, as well. It's an opportunity to showcase my abilities."

Griffen led the Vikings with 10.5 sacks, 17 tackles for loss and 76 quarterback hurries (tallied by Vikings coaches this season), but he made it clear that his stats were recorded with help from teammates.

"I couldn't do it without my big fellas, Linval Joseph, Brian Robison, Sharrif Floyd, Tom Johnson – people think the Pro Bowl is just about you making it, but it's about your team helping you get there," Griffen said. "Without my D-line there's no way I would have been able to achieve this accomplishment. We had a great year; it ended short, but I'm thankful for having those guys on the D-line with me." 

Griffen had a monster game in Week 17, recording a pair of sacks that proved pivotal in Minnesota's 20-13 victory at Green Bay to help the Vikings win their first NFC North title since 2009.

Griffen forced a fumble during his first sack of Aaron Rodgers that Captain Munnerlyn returned 55 yards for a touchdown. His second takedown of the QB forced the Packers to settle for a field goal, the final points by any team in the 2015 regular season. Griffen was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week for that performance at Lambeau Field, but wants to keep stoking the Vikings progress next season.

"We just matured and we became a better football team – a more disciplined football team, a smart football team," Griffen said. "We learned how to just play together, and that's how you win games."

Griffen totaled 22.5 sacks over the past two seasons, which ranks him sixth among all pass rushers league-wide.

Vikings defensive line coach Andre Patterson said he is proud for Griffen to receive the recognition.

"He deserves this honor for all of the hard work and his play over the last two seasons when I've had the pleasure to coach him," Patterson said. "Last year, I was disappointed that he didn't make it. I thought he had a Pro Bowl year last year, and he backed it up with another strong year. I think it's something that's well-deserved and earned, and he can be proud of that."

The best thing, Patterson said, is Griffen's productivity doesn't come at a cost to the success of the overall defense, which ranked fifth in the NFL in points allowed.

"To me, that's what makes him special. You might look at the 22-and-a-half sacks he's had in the last two seasons, but Everson is a really good run player too," Patterson said. "He's a team player. He has his success within the scheme of the defense. He's not out there doing his own thing to get his sack totals up. He plays within the system, and that's what makes our defense good because all the guys do it. It's good for him to see that he can play within the scheme — and not have to do his own thing — and still be rewarded for his play."

Griffen has joined RB Adrian Peterson as the second Vikings player to be named to the 2016 Pro Bowl.

The six-year veteran from USC is the fifth different DE to be named to the Pro Bowl in Vikings history.

VIKINGS DEFENSIVE ENDS NAMED TO THE PRO BOWL

                    6                               Chris Doleman                     1987-90, '92-93

                    6                               Carl Eller                             1968-71, '73-74

                    4                               Jared Allen                          2008-09, '11-12

                    2                               Jim Marshall                        1968-69

                    1                               Everson Griffen                    2015

View images throughout the season of Vikings Pro Bowl defensive end Everson Griffen.

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