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Wednesday, January 22, 2014
NFLN survey/Super Bowl player: Vikings

By Ben Goessling

In ESPN's NFL Nation Confidential survey, players were not allowed to vote for members of their own team, so Minnesota Vikings players couldn't name Adrian Peterson as the player they most wanted to see in the Super Bowl. But when I was surveying players in the Vikings' locker room on this question during the season, it was easy to tell how many of them would have supplied Peterson's name as their choice if they'd been allowed to do so.

Peterson
Peterson
Peterson is respected in the Vikings' locker room for the same reasons he won the vote around the league; he appears more concerned with being great than being famous, plays through injuries that would sideline most players and often talks about using his own achievements to inspire other players. He seemed genuinely touched when I told him he'd won the award, and surmised players around the league must notice how hard he works and how fiercely he plays.

The big question with Peterson, though, is at what point he'll grow tired of seeing the Vikings miss out on chances to get to the Super Bowl. Talking to him about the 2010 NFC Championship Game, it was clear he's still stung by his biggest missed opportunity -- a game in which his botched exchange at the goal line cost the Vikings a touchdown -- and he wants desperately to make up for that. He's under contract through 2017, so his only means to catch on with another team would be for the Vikings to trade him, but in light of his occasional musings about what it would be like to play somewhere else and what he said last week about how closely he's watching the direction of the franchise, Peterson could grow impatient if the Vikings can't turn things around soon.

For now, though, he'll have to live with the dubious honor of being the player his peers most want to see in the Super Bowl -- a fierce competitor who's won just about every individual accolade he can claim, but hasn't reached the ultimate destination with his team.