Saturday was a confluence of past purple glory and modern-day greatness … with a big batch of future honors nearly assured.
There was Cris Carter finally receiving his Hall of Fame election after five years of waiting in the wings.
Carter is the most productive receiver in Vikings history. He is first in scoring among non-kickers with 670 points, led the team in receptions for 10 consecutive seasons, including a team-record 122 catches in two different seasons, and had 1,004 career receptions. He also had a reception in 111 consecutive games, 12,383 career receiving yards, had 10 seasons with 1,000 receiving yards, and had 110 career receiving touchdowns – all franchise records.
There was Adrian Peterson, every bit the impressive specimen as a running back today as Carter was the receiver back in his day, receiving his first trophy as the NFL's Most Valuable Player after an incredible and improbable run through the league for 2,097 rushing yards just one season after needing reconstructive surgery to replace the anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his left knee.
Both were unequivocally deserving.
Where Carter owns all sorts of Vikings receiving records over his dozen years with the Vikings, Peterson has half as many seasons with Minnesota and is already dominating the rushing records. His six consecutive seasons leading the team in rushing ties him with franchise legends like Chuck Foreman and Robert Smith.
Peterson owns the team records for most rushing attempts in a career (1,754), most games and seasons leading the team in rushing attempts (85 and six, respectively), most rushing yards in a career (8,849) and season (2,097), most seasons with 1,000 yards rushing (five) – to name the most prominent of many dozens of records he owns.
And there were the former Vikings now with the two Super Bowl hopefuls, San Francisco and Baltimore, waiting for the their shot at their first ring.
Randy Moss, whose Minnesota career started and ended with controversy, was back causing another stir. Ironically, the player that despised talking to the media spent an hour at media day proclaiming himself the greatest receiver to the play the game. Since that bold declaration, which he stood by the following day, there were caveat's added by some and refuted by others. Fan comments on stories largely reflected the feeling here after covering Moss during his Vikings career – he is the "most talented" receiver to play in the NFL but not the greatest, mostly because he didn't always appear in engaged in working to be the best.
Moss said numbers can't always be used to quantify greatness. That's true, but when it comes to receiving numbers, Moss is so far behind Rice's career numbers that he pales in comparison in career totality.
"I never took any plays off and I always gave 100 percent," Rice said, apparently tweaking the fact that Moss was renowned for taking plays off. "Also, you put my numbers up against Randy's and my body of work compared to his, and there's a big difference."
Rice had 14 1,000-yard seasons. Moss is second with 10. Rice had 22,895 receiving yards; Moss is third with 15,292 and would need to play into his 40s and average more than 1,000 yards over his next seven seasons to reach that rare air.
But Moss wasn't the only former Viking vying for his first Super Bowl title. Matt Birk spent most of his years with the Vikings with Moss. The two coexisted on several teams with playoff promise, despite not always seeing eye-to-eye. Birk was the thoughtful, measured leader on the offensive line and Moss was the brash playmaker. They were both rookies in 1998 when the Vikings had perhaps their best chance in the last three decades to win a Super Bowl, but it fell apart in overtime at the Metrodome against the Atlanta Falcons.
Bryant McKinnie joined Birk in Baltimore for the 2011 season. Whereas Moss brings the brawn and Birk the brain, McKinnie brings the big. The 6-foot-8, 354-pound behemoth had his Vikings days end during training camp in 2011 when he showed up approaching 400 pounds. He was simply released after starting training camp on the physically unable to perform list.
He appears to have learned a lesson in conditioning and patience, and reports of financial strife may have been a motivating factor. McKinnie accepted a restructured contract that relied on incentives rather than guarantees, and eventually he worked himself back into the Ravens' starting lineup and became one of the factors in their playoff success.
A little over three years ago, there was so much agony for the Vikings in New Orleans. Peterson was left standing outside the locker room staring blankly at the turf of the Superdome after the Vikings lost in overtime of the NFC Championship Game. Brett Favre was inside the locker room later embracing Peterson, Percy Harvin and others as they fought back the tears, some more successfully than others.
Now in 2013, in a town that once reveled in the Vikings' defeat, the Purple's past from the 1990s and early 2000s (Carter), more recent past (Moss, Birk and McKinnie), and present and future (Peterson) were all there, each hoping to their own party started. Carter and Peterson got theirs Saturday. At least one of the other three will finally get a Super Bowl ring Sunday.
What a weekend for impassioned purple.
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Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.