Saving a seat for Everson Griffen: How the Vikings, NFL handle mental health struggles

In the three weeks since Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen was told to pause his football career and seek a mental health evaluation, teammates have expressed continuous support, saying the three-time All-Pro selection should take all the time he needs.

Meanwhile, for better or worse, these players are seeing how the modern NFL system tries to support mental health issues.

“When the situation with Everson came up, we knew he was in tremendous hands,” said Stephen Weatherly, who is starting at defensive end, in Griffen’s place.

“It’s always good to have an outlet, and hopefully this is his outlet to be able to get whatever off his chest,” defensive tackle Tom Johnson added.

But others who’ve studied the resources the Vikings and other NFL teams make available — on-site clinicians, mental performance consultants, confidential family assistance programs — still see flaws.

“Those lists are all great,” said Chris Deubert, a New York-based attorney who specializes in sports law and civil litigation. “But if no one takes advantage of them, or you set up road blocks, well, who cares?”