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Hunter & Griffen Showing Other Pro Bowlers How to Cope in Chilly Florida


KISSIMMEE, Fla. – Blue skies, a (somewhat) gentle breeze and … 45 degrees?

The backdrop of Wednesday's NFL Pro Bowl practice looked like Florida, lush palm trees and all, but felt a little more northern.

"It is pretty chilly out here; I see guys blowing on their fingers like this," Hunter said, rubbing his hands together. "But this is nothing to us. In Minnesota we deal with that negative-temperature, sub-zero stuff. It feels pretty good out here."

Everson Griffen could only laugh at the weather after cutting short a trip to the Bahamas when he found out earlier this week he'd been added to the all-star game as an alternate.

"The Bahamas are a lot warmer, but I'm in shorts and sandals out here still because I'm used to the Minnesota weather," Griffen said with a smile. "I'm just happy to be out here in Orlando and having fun.

"It's an amazing feeling," he added. "It's an honor. I'm thankful and blessed to be down here with [seven] of my teammates."

This year marks Griffen's fourth career Pro Bowl appearance (2015-17; 2019) since being drafted by the Vikings in 2010.

View images of the Vikings players at Wednesday practice at the 2020 NFL Pro Bowl.

Hunter, who received initial Pro Bowl honors along with Vikings safety Harrison Smith and running back Dalvin Cook, was nearly as excited as Griffen when his teammate got the invite.

"I was pumped," Hunter said. "During the season, we always talked about going to the Pro Bowl together. It was kind of like a gift when we both found out that he was coming. It's really exciting."

Hunter is back in Orlando for a second consecutive January after receiving his first career nod last year.

"It's all about just having fun, interacting with the fans. It's a great experience," Hunter said. "You meet players from all over the league and meet different coaches and all that. It's basically an overall good, fun experience."

Also added to this year’s Vikings group were quarterback Kirk Cousins, cornerback Xavier Rhodes and first-time Pro Bowlers fullback C.J. Ham and linebacker Eric Kendricks.

The Vikings eight representatives are the second-most from any NFC team behind the Saints 10, which include quarterback Drew Brees, receiver Michael Thomas and defensive end Cam Jordan, son of Vikings Ring of Honor member Steve Jordan.

Griffen, the longest-tenured Viking who just wrapped his 10th NFL season, appreciates the opportunity to connect with other players and familiar faces from around the league.

Players from the NFC that are usually opponents will share a locker room this week, but friendly jabs also likely will be exchanged.

"I'm just excited to be out here and talk to everybody and, of course, talk a little smack because that's what I do," Griffen said. "Everybody knows me, I'm going to talk a little smack."

Wednesday was the first of three Pro Bowl practices this week. The NFC and AFC teams, which are coached by the Seahawks staff and Ravens staff, respectively, will hold practices on Thursday and Saturday before Sunday's game.

The Pro Bowl will take place at Camping World Stadium at 2 p.m. (CT) Sunday.

Last year, the NFC team fell short in a rainy game of "backyard football," during which Hunter was credited with a sack of former Colts QB Andrew Luck.

Any predictions for what Vikings fans can expect this weekend?

"Me and Griff' going out there, we're just going to have fun," Hunter said. "We're both trying to have a sack or two for the game. It should be fun."

Hunter, Rhodes and Griffen each projected a win for the NFC.

"We're gonna win. There's nothing else to say," laughed Rhodes.

"I'm predicting us to win," Griffen said. "It's going to be fun being out there with the guys and [letting our fans see us] having fun. We've got the best fans in the world, so we'll be out there to do that."