MANKATO, Minn. –Everson Griffen plans to wear Purple for a long time.
The Vikings **announced** on Wednesday that they have signed Griffen to a contract extension. Griffen, entering his eighth season in Minnesota, said he's excited to be staying around.
"Man, it means I'm a Viking for life," Griffen told media members shortly after reporting to training camp Wednesday morning. "My appreciation's high; I appreciate each day I step on the football field, I appreciate the coaching staff, the ownership, the organization.
"It shows me that they respect me more as a player and as a man, too," Griffen continued. "I can never take that for granted, and I'm going to go out there [go all out] now, like I always do. I don't have to change nothing in my play but just take my game to the next level each and every day. And help this team win."
The Vikings selected Griffen 100th overall in the 2010 NFL Draft. Since then, he has worked his way up from a special teams contributor to an integral part of Minnesota's defense, where he has started all but one game at defensive end over the past three seasons. Since 2014, he has recorded the fifth-most sacks in the NFL with 30.5.
Griffen said he's grateful to defensive line coach Andre Patterson for helping him "master his technique" and reach the level he has. Griffen received consecutive Pro Bowl nods for his performance in the 2015 and 2016 seasons.
Vikings safety Harrison Smith, who has joined Griffen at the Pro Bowl in each of the past two seasons, wasn't surprised by the extension.
"You don't let guys like that go," Smith said. "A lot of times, you see sack numbers, and that's what sticks out, but he's a complete player that dominates the game in the run and pass.
"Having a guy like him and the rest of the guys up front, I'm glad we have him locked up," Smith. "I'm glad he's on our team. It makes our defense that much more potent for a longer time."
Griffen, 29, said he feels great physically and is thankful for the chance he's had to develop as a player.
"I think I was fortunate to sit behind Jared [Allen] for four years, so I don't have all the wear and tear on my body like [players] who get thrown into the fire from the beginning," Griffen said.
Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman and Griffen extended gratitude to Executive Vice President of Football Operations Rob Brzezinski for helping to work through and finalize the extension.
"We were excited to get Everson Griffen's extension done this morning," Spielman said. "We will continue to work and monitor potential other extensions as we go forward, but excited to get out there and get ready for the 2017 season."
Griffen also specifically thanked the Wilf Family ownership group for its trust in Griffen to continue contributing at a high level.
"It shows that they have extreme confidence in me and faith in me and that they believe in my abilities to go out there and help this team win a championship," Griffen said. "Because that's our number one goal each and every year."
Griffen said he's proud to be part of such a talented defensive line unit that has been able to retain a consistent corps. With his extension signed and his bags moved into a dorm room at Minnesota State University, Mankato, Griffen said it's time to get to work with his teammates.
"It starts with his process of grinding when we come together as a team, come together as a unit to get where we want to go," Griffen said. "And we can be the best, but it's up to us. Like Coach Patterson always says, 'It ain't easy being great.' You have to go out there and work each and every day to be great, and that's what we have to do."
One of Griffen's comrades on the line, Danielle Hunter, was excited to hear that Griffen extended his time with the Vikings.
"I'm really excited about having a guy like that lead me and [be able to] follow his path," Hunter said. "That's something I really like to see: when hard work pays off."
Added Hunter: "Ever since I've been here, he's been one of my mentors, right there, looking forward to seeing what I can do."
As Griffen looks ahead to a tenured career in Minnesota, he offered a shout out and promise to his supporters:
"And to the fans, the best fans in the world, something special's going to happen here," Griffen said. "We have to believe, and they have to believe it. You have to believe it in your heart, and you have to go out each and every day and just work."