By Joseph Gunther
Voters will be hard pressed to find a more deserving candidate to win the NFL’s Most Valuable Player Award than Adrian Peterson.
The sixth-year veteran finished with the second best season by a running back in NFL history. He finished with the second highest rushing yardage in a single season in NFL history, but more importantly led the Vikings to a 10-6 record and a wild card spot in the playoffs. He did it for a team that had just three wins all of last season while coming off major knee surgery last December.
“He’s just in a class by himself,” Leslie Frazier said Monday during his press conference. “In my mind as I mentioned (Sunday night), he’s the MVP of our league, he’s the best running back without question in the National Football League.
“Really exemplifies all the characteristics we try to embody as a team, a guy who is tough, he’s smart, he’s disciplined, he’s selfless in so many ways. As much as he wanted that record, as much as we wanted that record for him, it was more important for him that we won the football game.”
Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave has put Peterson and the whole Vikings offense in position to win games, even if the execution has failed in some occasions this season, and Frazier acknowledge the great opportunity the team’s offense has with the 6-foot-1-inch, 217-pound running back.
The best example of utilizing the league’s best player came during Sunday’s victory over the Green Bay Packers at Mall of America Field. The Vikings had a three point lead in the third quarter, but were faced with a second-and-27 situation at the Packer 35-yard line. 28 yards later, Peterson was pushed out of bounds to set up a first-and-goal. Peterson eventually capped the drive with a short touchdown catch.
“We have a unique situation here with Adrian for sure,” Frazier said Monday. “I mean there are not a lot of teams that would even think you’re going to get back to the line of scrimmage in that situation and here we are looking at first-and-10. We are very fortunate to have a guy like him running the football and we take full advantage for sure.”
Following the game, Peterson showed exactly where his focus was during the game. He was interviewed by Fox’s Pam Oliver on the field after the game and was shocked to find out he was nine yards short of the record.
“As I’ve said time and time again, there aren’t very many superstars that are willing to put the team first, and that’s Adrian,” Frazier said Monday. To come up nine yards short, but yet to walk away from it and say, ‘You know what, we’re going to the playoffs. We have a chance to do something special here in Minnesota’. That’s what you need out of your superstar, one of the leaders on your team. An exciting time for our franchise, an exciting time for our fans and everybody that supports our team and we’re looking forward to the challenge.”
The Vikings know how close Peterson was to the record and will look back at the team’s 16 games this season to see if they can find a few more yards for him.
“Yeah if we could find those hidden yards, we would do it,” Frazier said Monday. “They have different people who will be doing it, but we will be doing our own homework as well, but if we can find nine yards we will do it.”
If the Vikings are going to make a long run in the playoffs, it is going to be on the legs of Peterson.
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Joseph Gunther is an avid fan of Minnesota sports, including football, hockey and baseball. He covered a wide variety of sports while attending Hastings College in Hastings, Neb. While at Hastings College, he was a part of the first collegiate media group to broadcast a national tournament via television, radio, internet and newspaper at the 2004 NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball Tournament. He grew up in the Twin Cities playing three years of varsity football in high school. His work can be found on Examiner.com.