| Detroit Free Press
NFL power rankings 8.0: Steelers rise to No. 1 spot
SportsPulse: For the first time this season, and the first time in a long time, the Pittsburgh Steelers have taken the number one spot in the power rankings. Mackenzie provides the biggest risers and fallers of the week.
Welcome back to the NFC North, Everson Griffen.
Griffen was traded Tuesday from the Dallas Cowboys to the Detroit Lions, sending him back to the division where he became an All-Pro and four-time Pro Bowler. The Lions gave up a conditional draft pick for the 32-year-old pass-rush specialist. Per COVID-19 protocols, Griffen can’t make his debut this week against Indianapolis.
Here are five things to know about Griffen:
He wasn’t always on the field for Dallas, but he was effective
The Cowboys’ defense is pretty bad, but Griffen was pretty good in limited time on the field. The 32-year-old typically played between 50% and 60% of the defensive snaps for Dallas and was second on the team with 2.5 sacks and six hits on the quarterback. Sunday against Washington, Griffen had a sack, two quarterback hits and five tackles over 39 plays.
He’s no stranger to the Black and Blue Division
He spent 10 years with the Minnesota Vikings before signing in the offseason with the Cowboys. In 58 games in the NFC North, he has totaled 30.5 sacks — 16 of which came against Detroit (and 11.5 came against Green Bay). Griffen made the Pro Bowl four times in five years before leaving Minnesota and had some pointed criticisms for one former Lions lineman.
There was that one play against the Lions
Lions fans might remember Griffen for one sack in particular. He used a takedown of Matthew Stafford to crowdsource a name for his newborn son. After getting off Stafford on Thanksgiving 2017, Griffen lifted his jersey, showing a handwritten message on his undershirt: “I just had a baby boy. What should we name him?”
Not sure how No. 9 feels about that today.
(Griffen named his son Sebastian.)
He almost went to Michigan
Yes, the Wolverines were among the final suitors for Griffen, who was a multisport athlete out of Arizona. Griffen stayed west and had quite the career (18 sacks in 36 games) at Southern California. After dominating the Pac-12 and the NFL Scouting Combine (second at his position in bench press, sixth in 40-yard dash time) he was selected in the fourth round of the 2010 draft. Imagine him and Brandon Graham sharing the field for Michigan football at the Big House.
Advocacy off the field
Griffen is one of many NFL players who has spoken out about the need for mental health resources. In 2018, he missed several games because of off-the-field issues stemming from a mental health crisis. He returned in 2019 and played well, notching eight sacks. He talked earlier this year about the troubling string of 2018 incidents and other traumas in his past, and has been praised for sharing his story.
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