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Updated: December 13th, 2012 10:14pm
Zulgad: Vikings' Adrian Peterson admits MVP would 'mean a lot' to him

Zulgad: Vikings' Adrian Peterson admits MVP would 'mean a lot' to him

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by Judd Zulgad
1500ESPN.com

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Adrian Peterson isn't one to boast or put his accomplishments before the team, so when the Minnesota Vikings Pro Bowl running back shows a willingness to talk about what a personal honor would mean to him you know he has given it some serious thought.

And clearly, Peterson has given real consideration to the fact he has a chance to be named the NFL's Most Valuable Player.

"It would mean a lot," he said Thursday. "I work to be the best to play."

That is obvious.

But no matter how good Peterson has been he has little control over a voting process that often favors the quarterback position. Voting is conducted by the Associated Press right after the regular season and the winner is picked by a nationwide panel of media.

While Peterson has gotten support from some, the names that come up most often are quarterbacks Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos and Tom Brady of the New England Patriots.

This doesn't sit all that well with Peterson, whose competitive spark rarely fades.

"The quarterbacks kind of get a little leeway at times but the MVP goes to the best player," he said. "You've got to be able to evaluate different situations and who has been performing the best. Not just narrow it down to quarterbacks. That's not right. If that's the case, then you should make it a quarterback only award.

"I kind of gave an example the other day about the Heisman. If the Heisman is for the best player in college football, than you shouldn't tag on, 'Well, this guy has been playing for three years, here are his career stats. This guy is a freshman so he might have a chance to win it here in the next couple of years.' Give it to the best player. That's my outlook on it."

There is no debating Peterson has been one of the best players in the NFL this season and there is little doubt the Vikings offense would be a complete mess without him. Even Peterson admits he thinks he's having his best season.

Coming off reconstructive surgery on his left knee, which makes this story all the more remarkable, Peterson hasn't missed a game in 2012.

Peterson leads the NFL with 1,600 yards rushing on 265 carries, a 6-yard per carry average, with 10 touchdowns. He has rushed for more than 100 yards in seven consecutive games, averaging 157.3 yards per game in that time.

Peterson is looking to become the seventh player in NFL history to rush for 2,000 yards in a season. He has to average "only" 133.3 yards against St. Louis, Houston and Green Bay to get to that magic figure. That seems very realistic given his recent ouput.

Eric Dickerson set the single-season rushing mark of 2,105 yards in 1984 with the Los Angeles Rams. The other 2,000-yard rushers were Baltimore's Jamal Lewis (2,066 in 2003), Detroit's Barry Sanders (2,053 in 1997), Denver's Terrell Davis (2,008 in 1998), Tennessee's Chris Johnson (2,006 in 2009) and Buffalo's O.J. Simpson (2,003 in 1973).

Peterson's best rushing season came in 2008 when he led the NFL and set a franchise record with 1,760 yards on the ground. He is now only 160 yards away from that total.

So what does Peterson think of potentially being the MVP on a team that doesn't make the playoffs? After all, the Patriots and Broncos have clinched the AFC East and West, respectively, with 10-3 records. The Vikings are 7-6 and on the outskirts of the NFC playoff picture.

"I'm planning on being in the playoffs," Peterson said. "But to answer your question, I don't think (the MVP has to be on a playoff team). Some type of winning record. Not 0-1. But it is what it is. If you're on an undefeated team or a losing team."

Peterson, in his sixth season, also gives the impression that even if his team falls out of the playoff race, he isn't going to back off in his pursuit for 2,000 yards. This should come as no surprise given that many expected he might ease into the season after coming off torn anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments.

Peterson has played in every regular-season game and last Sunday had a career-high 31 rushing attempts. He is the reason the Vikings rushing offense is third in the NFL behind only Washington and San Francisco. The Vikings passing game, meanwhile, is 32nd and last in the league.

That means Peterson sees nine and 10 men coming to the line of scrimmage, daring Christian Ponder to throw the ball.

With so much attention paid to him, not to mention the fact he had the knee issue and currently is dealing with an injury to his abdomen, it would seem logical to think Peterson might hit a wall late in the season. But the one catch is that we're talking about Peterson.

So far, he appears to be super human, and he certainly doesn't want to hear about hitting a wall.

"They don't call me All Day for no reason," Peterson said. "I don't plan on hitting a wall. I didn't hit a rookie wall. I don't believe in walls. I worked extremely hard to push through the season." 

Judd Zulgad is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays and "Saturday Morning SportsTalk" from 10 a.m. to noon on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Judd | @1500ESPNJudd | Mackey & Judd
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