The voting continues this morning for the FedEx Ground NFL Player of the Year, in which the Vikings' Adrian Peterson is one of three finalists.
There's little doubting the impact Peterson has made on the NFL, but this competition may be among the most prestigious. There are only three running backs in the running for the award – Peterson, LaDainian Tomlinson and Fred Taylor.
While L.T. has earned his distinction as the league's top running back over the past couple of years and Taylor has made his bone through what would be described as lifetime achievement – several very good years, but few that would be deemed as truly great – Peterson's impact on the game has been immediate and pronounced, which is why many are of the belief that he should be the selection.
Despite being used sparingly in the first month of the season as part of a time-share and missing time late in the season with a knee injury, Peterson still led the NFC in rushing (second only to L.T. in the league), tied for second with 12 rushing touchdowns and led the league with a 5.6 yards-per-carry average.
Tomlinson and Taylor came into the season as known commodities, while Peterson was the subject of considerable debate concerning his injured collarbone and was viewed as a "risk-reward" pick on draft day last April. Nine months later, there were a lot of general managers kicking themselves for not making the move to snag Peterson and fans around the league wondering why their favorite team didn't draft Peterson if they had the chance in front of the Vikings or to make a trade with the draft-pick starved Redskins to move in front of the Vikings to take him.
If that isn't justification for being the Ground Player of the Year, what is? While his team didn't enjoy the success that the Chargers or Jaguars did, Peterson made the biggest impact of any of the three running backs and, while there is no guarantee that he will win, a strong case can be made that he is more deserving of the honor than either of the other two backs.
The winner will be announced Jan. 30 as part of Super Bowl week in Glendale, Ariz. The winner will receive a check for $25,000 to be distributed among his city's children's hospitals.
* With the Senior Bowl in full swing, fans are getting a chance to familiarize themselves with some of the top prospects entering the NFL in April, but they aren't getting the full show. VU is in the process of developing its first mock draft and, with the addition of a record number of underclassmen to the draft, it's possible that half of the first-round picks or even slightly more could be underclassmen when the first round is completed.
* The Vikings are well represented at the Senior Bowl, with two of the legs of the Triangle of Authority – head coach Brad Childress and Vice President of Player Personnel Rick Spielman – in attendance at Mobile.
Another Award for A.P.?
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