Harvin reflects on his rookie ride

Vikings receiver Percy Harvin entered the NFL less than a year ago with questions about his character. After being named Offensive Rookie of the Year, he leaves his first season behind with people wondering how high his potential can go. Harvin talked about Favre, the ending of the season and the future.

With much of the talk surrounding the end of the 2009 season and looking forward to 2010 centering on whether veterans like Brett Favre and Pat Williams will be returning, one less-discussed prospect is the maturing of the Vikings rookie class. All five of their draft picks started at least one game and Percy Harvin and Phil Loadholt made their presence felt from Day One of the regular season.

Before being named Offensive Rookie of the Year, Harvin came into 2009 with a lot to prove and has now ended the season as a player many believe has just begun scratching the surface of greatness as a potential difference-maker in the NFL.

Despite setbacks due to persistent migraine headaches, Harvin became the kind of game-changer he was envisioned to be. Asked to be much more of a component of the Vikings offense than many thought he would be, Harvin became a go-to player in the arsenal of weapons.

He said his rookie season was all he hoped it would be in terms of being able to contribute to the level he had anticipated. He credited his fellow receivers for putting extra time to get him up to speed and teach the nuances of the NFL game.

"One thing I told all the veterans when I was able to talk (to them) today – that I appreciate all the receivers," Harvin said. "Greg Lewis to Sidney (Rice) to Bernard (Berrian). They taught me so much. They made my first year so enjoyable. I couldn't have asked for a better situation for our teammates and coaching staff. This put me in the best situation for me to be successful, so from that standpoint I couldn't have wished anything better for the season other than, of course, to win it all."

Forgetting the NFC Championship Game was something the players still hadn't been able to get over in the hours and days that have passed. In Harvin's mind, it wasn't so much that they lost, it was how they lost – unconvinced the better team won the game.

"Hats off to the Saints, but we felt we should have won that game," Harvin said. "With that said, we accomplished a lot of goals, but just didn't get that last one."

Harvin said as hard as the loss hit the team, it hit hardest with quarterback Brett Favre. Harvin wouldn't speculate on whether Favre will return in 2010 or not, but he said when he spoke with Favre before they left Minnesota for the offseason that he simply wanted to give praise to Favre for everything he brought to the team in his first year as a Viking.

"Mine is just an appreciation for everything," Harvin said. "In know that pretty much everybody in this offense took something away from him. Whether he comes back or not, he has taught this team so much. The strides that our offense took, I think a lot of the credit belongs to 4. I felt bad that we couldn't go out with him on top this year. I just wanted to tell him thank you."

Harvin said that Favre blended in with the team immediately and that his infectious personality and love of the game made how the team lost Sunday even more painful. Favre didn't come back for revenge against the Packers. He came back because he truly loves playing football and that rubbed off on all of his teammates.

"We just wanted to send him out a better way," Harvin said. "The things he taught this team and just to see him, you knew he came back for one reason. To know we were that close and yet so far to reaching that goal, it kind of touched me a little bit and I'm sure Adrian (Peterson) it did too. Just to know we couldn't get that for him and knowing he may not come back or may come back, we knew we had a chance to make it happen and we didn't. From my (side), I just wanted to send him out a better way."

After the game, Harvin and Peterson came up to Favre's locker and, without a word being spoken, a tearful Favre placed his hand behind both of their heads and pulled them in for a hug. When they emerged, all three had tears in their eyes, because Favre had been more than just a teammate.

"He taught so much," Harvin said. "Almost like, I wouldn't say a father and son, but like a brother-type relationship – just talking and mentoring. Everything. On the field. Off the field. We both knew we were that close to getting it."

While the futures of players like Favre and Williams remain up in the air, Harvin said there is a lot to be hopeful for in the Vikings future – not the least of which being Harvin himself. The sting is still there, but eventually that will turn into motivation to take it to the next level and achieve the goal of the Super Bowl championship.

"It's still disappointing," Harvin said of how the 2009 season ended. "At the same time, it was a great season. Of course, we didn't accomplish the goal we wanted to, but we made great strides. We'll rest now and give it another go this year."


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