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Updated: January 7th, 2013 6:15pm
Reusse's Reality Script: Episode 2 (Adrian's career year)

Reusse's Reality Script: Episode 2 (Adrian's career year)

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by Patrick Reusse

1 - Joe Mauer turned 26 on April 19, 2009. He was on the disabled list that month and did not start his sixth big-league season for the Twins until May 1. He homered immediately and went on the win the American League MVP with these numbers: 138 games played, 606 plate appearances, .365 average, 28 home runs and 96 RBIs.

You heard the term "career year,'' more in the context that any ballplayer would be proud to have a year such as this.

Mauer will turn 30 early in the 2013 season. We can now look back on the magnificence of 2009 and use "career year'' in the conventional manner: That when it's over, this will be the year when Mauer performed at his best.

Adrian Peterson turned 27 in 2012 as he entered his sixth NFL season for the Vikings. He was rehabbing from reconstructive knee surgery and seemed to be the only person certain that would be ready for the start of the regular season.

Sixteen games later, he had rushed for 2,097 yards -- the second most in NFL history -- and had done so with an astounding average of 6.0 yards on 348 carries. We haven't heard the phrase "career year'' in any context, mostly because Adrian will not allow it.

When he came up nine yards short of Eric Dickerson's record in the season finale, he suggested Dickerson had only one more offseason to enjoy it, and then he would see Peterson flying past him. And now Adrian has said that 2,500 yards are "possible'' in his future.

Mauer's main position is catcher, the most-grueling in baseball. Peterson's position of running back is known to have the shortest cycle of high performance in the NFL.

So, have we seen Peterson's career year at 27 with his phenomenal 2012, as we did Mauer's at 26 with his phenomenal 2009?

The odds are strong that's the case, but the intensity with which Peterson challenges himself as an athlete is so unique, that if a Las Vegas sports book put his yardage at 2,000 for 2013, I'd probably bet the over.

2 - There has been a discussion as to whether Peterson's season was the best ever for a Minnesota pro athlete in a team sport. Mauer's 2009 and Kevin Garnett's 2004 have been mentioned as rivals to Peterson's 2012, but I say the two that most-readily compare were these:

* Rod Carew's MVP season for the Twins in 1977, when he batted .388, with 239 hits, 128 runs scored and 100 RBIs. It was the summer when Carew made a serious run at .400 and was on the cover of both Sports Illustrated and Time in the same.

* Alan Page's 1971 season for the Vikings in 1971, when his tackle play was so incredible that he became the first defensive player to be voted as the NFL's MVP. The only other defender to be so honored was the New York Giants' Lawrence Taylor for the 1986 season.

It is much more difficult to quantify Page's play with numbers than with a baseball hitter or a running back. Just know this (if you weren't around): He was dynamic on most Sundays and unstoppable if an opponent made the mistake of irritating him.

Page remains the greatest Viking of all on my list, followed by (2) Randall McDaniel, (3) Fran Tarkenton and now (4) Peterson, sliding ahead of (5) John Randle and knocking Randy Moss out of the top five.

Patrick Reusse has been covering sports in the Twin Cities since 1968. He co-hosts SportsTalk from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. and hosts The Ride with Reusse from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays. He also co-hosts "Saturday Morning SportsTalk" from 10 a.m. to noon on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Patrick | @1500ESPN_reusse | The Ride with Reusse
In this story: Randy Moss, Adrian Peterson