At a time when the Great Debate of early 2013 is whether the NFL will give Peterson or Peyton Manning the Most Valuable Player Award (does the eventual loser get both Offensive Player of the Year and Comeback Player of the Year as a consolation prize?), the legendary Maxwell Football Club gave the nod to A.P. on Tuesday.
MFC President/ESPN analyst/former Eagles star QB Ron Jaworski announced Tuesday that Peterson was awarded the 54th Bert Bell Professional Player of the Year Award. The MFC also made an unprecedented move and named both Chuck Pagano and Bruce Arians the Greasy Neale Professional Coach of the Year.
The MFC honors players, coaches and front office people in both the pro and college game and some of the awards take into account the adversity players and teams have endured. Clearly, Peterson and Pagano, who was diagnosed with leukemia early in his first season with the Colts, are deserving candidates. In addition, the MFC presented its annual Spirit Award, named after legendary CBS broadcaster Tom Brookshier, to 31 returning members of the Penn State football team – an honor to the innocent victims of a horrific scandal that many thought would bring the program to its knees.
Peterson will likely suffer minor jet lag as he collects his offseason hardware. The Maxwell Awards will be held March 1 in Philadelphia. The next day, he will be pulling in another longstanding, prestigious NFL honor.
A.P. also will be front and center at the time-honored 101 Awards, a ceremony that was started at the time of the AFL-NFL merger by Kansas City Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt to honor players from both of the former rival leagues for their individual achievements. The 101 Awards are named after the 101 sportswriters and broadcasters nationwide that cover the NFL who vote on the awards. The ceremony will take place March 2 in Kansas City.
Peterson was named NFL Offensive Player of the Year in the 101 Awards voting. Manning was named AFC Offensive Player of the Year. In other honors handed out, San Francisco linebacker Aldon Smith was named NFC Defensive Player of the Year, Houston defensive end J.J. Watt was named AFC Defensive Player of the Year. In the Coach of the Year category, Pete Carroll of Seattle won for the NFC and, in a classy move, Pagano and Arians again shared the honor for AFC.
Peterson is also one of three finalists for the FedEx Ground Player of the Year. Marshawn Lynch and Albert Morris, the other two finalists, hardly stand a chance.
Vikings fans should consider themselves privileged for what they witnessed in 2012. There are moments that Vikings fans remember decades after they happened. The Super Bowl runs from 1969-76 are burned into the memories of "old-timer" Vikings fans. The run in 1987 brought their kids into the fold. The 1998 Vikings transitioned into the next generation and the grandchildren of the early Vikings fans relished in rubbing Green Bay's nose in it in 2009 when some guy from Mississippi came to the mouth of the river and gave an incredible gunslinger's last ride.
Vikings fans marveled with hesitation in August when Peterson said he was coming back. They got on their feet as Peterson hit his knees when he made good on his promise. The whole way through they saw the week-to-week improvement until he spit the bit at midseason and started running like the thoroughbred he was in 2007. The dismayed national audience, which saw Peterson largely on highlight clips, is catching up.
A year ago, few could have imagined that Peterson would be adding so many new trophies to his expansive case – one that is already filled to the gills. Fortunately for him – and those who got to bear witness to his proclamation of faith – 2012 is a season that won't soon be forgotten and will be indelibly etched in the history of the game. The awards he's bringing home are the type that won't allow them to be forgotten – long after Peterson is gone from the gridiron.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.