Several Vikings rooting against boyhood team

Several Vikings have ties to Texas, including RB Adrian Peterson, but on Sunday they will be putting their boyhood biases aside and hoping to beat the team they one rooted for. See the different levels of fandom a few Vikings had for the Cowboys when they were young.

Adrian Peterson grew up a Dallas Cowboys fan, but he won't be the only member of the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday rooting against the team he cheered on during his developmental days.

Six Vikings players either hail from Texas or played collegiately there and will be playing against the Cowboys with the big stakes of the playoffs on the line. Besides being one of the most popular teams in the nation, the Cowboys added to their legend when they won Super Bowl championships following the 1992, 1993 and 1995 seasons, when many of the current Vikings were in their formative years.

Peterson remembers the stars of those teams well – from running back Emmitt Smith to wide receiver Michael Irvin, even cornerback Deion Sanders, aka "Prime Time."

"I was a huge Cowboys fan growing up, the days of Michael Irvin, Prime Time, Emmitt. It's going to feel good to play those guys," said Peterson, who grew up in Palestine, Texas. "I've got a lot of family that's kind of uneven, what side they're pulling for. I know we're coming in definitely to get a win."

Peterson's father, Nelson, lives in Dallas, but Adrian said Nelson has been shielding his son from the sentiments in the Dallas media.

"He really don't bring it to my attention. He's knows I'm focused, got a big game ahead of us. I already know," Adrian said. "We've got a lot of family that lives in Dallas. I can just imagine the different things they're hearing and what he's hearing from different people."

Peterson is far from alone. A few of his teammates face a similar situation with family members being Cowboys fans.

"I was a Cowboys fan my whole life so it will be exciting to play against them on Sunday as well as it has been when I played them in preseason and stuff like that. It's always been exciting, so I'm definitely looking forward to it," said defensive end Brian Robison, who grew up in Splendora, Texas, near Houston.

"I've got a lot of family that has been Cowboys fans my whole life," Robison said. "My high school coach texted me the other day and said, ‘I've been a Cowboys fan my whole life, but I love you more than I love them.' I think I persuaded a lot of Cowboys fans and my family to switch over to the Vikings."

In addition to Peterson and Robison, long snapper Cullen Loeffler grew up in Ingram and played for the University of Texas, defensive tackle Fred Evans played for Texas State-San Marcos, defensive tackle Pat Williams played for Texas A&M and Cedric Griffin grew up in San Antonio and played for the Longhorns.

Griffin downplayed the notion of facing the Cowboys in the playoffs.

"I'm just ready to play football. I don't care who it's against. I'm not excited about playing a particular team, I'm just excited about playing football on Sundays," Griffin said.

But Peterson made no attempt to hide his boyhood passion for Cowboys stars of the past. He had trading cards of Smith and had a poster of Sanders hanging in his room.

"He was just one of a kind – offense, defense, special teams," Peterson said of Sanders. "He did it all. His blazing speed, he was just a one-of-a-kind type of player."

With Peterson's own success in the NFL, he's had the opportunity to meet all three of his Cowboys heroes from the past. Interestingly, some of today's NFL stars get nervous meeting their idols from days gone by.

"I try to keep my composure, try to just stay calm, whatever," Peterson said. "When I first met those guys, Prime Time, Emmitt, Michael Irvin, not try to get too excited, but I was inside."

Pat Williams grew up in Louisiana, but despite playing football for Texas A&M and making to the NFL, he said he had no childhood heroes who were football players, only one family hero.

"I didn't grow up nobody's fan. I'm momma's fan. That was my hero growing up," he said. "I didn't have no players growing up. I'll I wanted to be was Pat Williams. That's it."

For Griffin, it is more important that he's got family from Texas, not which team he grew up rooting for.

"It's important for me, being from Texas, to have a good showing for myself. Lots of friends, family and teammates are going to be watching this game," he said. "We have a chance to take the next step to our team goals and Dallas is going to be a tough test. As a defense, we pride ourselves on stepping up."

"When they come up here, it's strictly business," Peterson said. "You can't be a Cowboys fan on Sunday."

Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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