Saturday, February 2, 2013, will go down as one of the significant days in the history of the Minnesota Vikings franchise. That is the day the NFL Hall of Fame finally did right by the franchise's greatest wide receiver Cris Carter. That is the day that - thank goodness - journalists did right by the franchise's greatest running back Adrian Peterson.
Cris Carter was named to the NFL Hall of Fame in his sixth year of eligibility. He should have been named in his first. When Carter retired, only the great Jerry Rice had more receptions and more touchdown receptions than Carter. Only Rice, Tim Brown and James Lofton had more receiving yards. However, no player who has ever played had a better set of hands, or skilled sideline footwork than Carter.
Cris Carter was not only the greatest Vikings receiver of all time, he was arguably one of the top two or three greatest wide receivers of all time period. Sure, in this age of fantasy football, video game passing statistics, Carter's numbers will fade in time. Hopefully the images of his countless circus and acrobatic catches will not. The Hall of Fame was negligent in passing over this legendary Viking year after year. In July, he will at long last take his rightful place in Canton, Ohio.
On that same Saturday evening, Adrian Peterson was named the Associated Press NFL Offensive Player of the Year as well as the Associated Press NFL Most Valuable Player. Both were the right calls. Peterson's 2012 season was one of the greatest individual seasons in the history of the NFL. He shouldered the load of powering a three-win team from the year before into this year's playoffs. Peterson was instrumental in helping his team win out, when the Vikings needed to win their final four games of the regular season in order to qualify for the post-season.
Even ignoring the fact that the man blew out his knee in the next-to-last-game of the 2011 season and remarkably bounced back with a career year in 2012, even had there not been any prior injury, what Peterson did this season was ridiculous. His 2,097 yards rushing was of course only bested by Eric Dickerson's 2,105 in 1984, although Peterson's 6.0 yards-per-carry average exceeded Dickerson's 5.6 yards-per-carry average. Of the seven runners in NFL history to rush for over 2,000 yards in a season, only Barry Sanders' 1997 yards-per-carry average of 6.1 was slightly better than Peterson's.
If Peterson did not win the MVP award with a season like this, as there were plenty who felt Peyton Manning should claim the award for what would have been the quarterback's fifth time, there really would be no point in having anyone but quarterbacks be in line to receive the honor anymore. No veteran quarterback in 2012 had a historically great season on a scale even remotely rivaling Peterson's.
Oh yeah, last week Peterson had surgery to repair a sports hernia. It seems "All Day" (Peterson) played with the injury since the 10th game of the season. In the eight games (including the playoffs) he played injured, he rushed for 1,239 yards on 6.1 yards per carry with six touchdowns. Those eight games - equivalent to half a season - would prorate to 2,478 yards rushing in a full season. That total would obliterate Dickerson's record. Peterson has predicted rushing for 2,500 yards in 2013. Still think that prediction is far-fetched?
Carter and Peterson brought the richly decorated organization two more much-deserved honors. The previous MVP awarded to a Viking was to Fran Tarkenton in 1975, he too of course also a member of the NFL Hall of Fame. While the final Saturday of the NFL season proved to be a bright one for the Vikings, the same week began with the Vikings' rookie tight end Kyle Rudolph receiving the Most Valuable Player Award for his five-catch, one-touchdown performance in the 2013 Pro Bowl. That Pro Bowl honor, has also been previously claimed by Peterson and Tarkenton.
A banner week for the Vikings brought a very satisfying conclusion to what proved to be a very positive and encouraging 2012 campaign.