The Vikings will have six players competing today in the Pro Bowl in Hawaii - making them the second-most represented team at the NFL's annual all-star game.
It seems hard to believe that it has been a month since the Vikings played their last game of the season against the Eagles in the wild card round of the playoffs. But, it won't be the last chance for fans to see their heroes in purple and gold. Today six of them will play their final games of the 2008 season more than a month into 2009 as the NFC and AFC all stars meet up in the Pro Bowl.
Although viewed by many as an anti-climax because it comes after the conclusion of the season and doesn't get the same sort of attenion, the Vikings will extremely well represented with Adrian Peterson
, Steve Hutchinson
, Pat Williams
, Kevin Williams
, Jared Allen
and Antoine Winfield
playing in the game. Only the Giants have more players with seven.
Last year, Peterson wowed the fans with a record-setting performance on his way to being named the game's MVP as a rookie. This time, he comes to Hawaii with even more company.
The game will have a distinctive Vikings flavor throughout, with A.D., Hutchinson, Kevin Williams and Winfield in the starting lineup and Allen and Big Pat coming in as reserves. While the Vikings didn't advance deep into the playoffs in 2008, their sheer numbers at the Pro Bowl serve as evidence that the team has a core of superstar talents that might get there sooner than later.
Although most players interviewed this week have said they would prefer to keep the Pro Bowl in Hawaii, it will be moved in 2010 as an experiment – playing the game in Miami the week before the Super Bowl to see if the new juxtaposition will increase fan interest and media coverage.
The move to Miami next year will end a 30-year streak of Pro Bowl games being played in Hawaii.
Several players won't play in the Pro Bowl today due to injuries, including OTs Walter Jones and Chris Samuels, OG Leonard Davis, LB Derrick Brooks and CBs Charles Woodson and Asante Samuel of the NFC, as well as QB Brett Favre, RB Chris Johnson, TE Antonio Gates, OT Jason Peters and center Kevin Mawae of the AFC.
Thanks to an extension and an 11th hour flurry of ticket purchases, the Pro Bowl won't be blacked out in Hawaii.
As expected, Patriots QB Matt Cassel signed his franchise tender of $14.65 million. Many league insiders, however, believe Cassel will be traded if it becomes apparent that Tom Brady is anywhere close to being healthy in the next month or two.
The Vikings signed linebacker Kenny Onatolu to a futures contract in late December, a move that went largely unnoticed. Onatulu played for the Edmonton Eskimos of the CFL. In addition to the Vikings Onatolu was reported to being pursued by the Dolphins, Jets and Buccaneers. Onatolu, 26, spent the last two seasons with the Eskimos.
It appears as though, for the time being anyways, Daunte Culpepper will remain with the Lions. He was rumored to be on the outs due to a roster clause that requires the Lions to pay him $2.5 million if he is still on the roster Feb. 27, as well as kick in a $2.5 million contract for 2009. In the last two days, the Lions have released four veteran players and Culpepper wasn't among them.