More hardware for Adrian
Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was named Diet Pepsi rookie of the year today in a vote of NFL fans.
This is just the latest honor for Peterson, who previously was named the Associated Press offensive rookie of the year and is one of seven Vikings headed to next week's Pro Bowl in Hawaii.
An emotional Peterson thanked his teammates, coaches and especially running backs coach Eric Bieniemy "for staying on my back and continuing to push me."
Peterson rushed for 1,341 yards during his first season with the Vikings, including a 224-yard performance at Chicago that he called "a breakthrough game."
He later set an NFL single-game rushing record with 296 yards against San Diego.
"It was a special day," he said. "It was a wonderful day and a day I'll always remember."
Asked how he plans to spend his free time in Hawaii, Peterson said: "Just really enjoy myself and maybe hula dance."
The only question that appeared to throw Peterson dealt with what he would do if he were in charge of the Vikings' draft. (After a brief delay, he said he would need time to sit back and evaluate things first and then make a decision.)
This year's other four finalists were wide receiver Dwayne Bowe (Chiefs), running back Marshawn Lynch (Bills), offensive tackle Joe Thomas (Browns) and linebacker Patrick Willis (49ers).
Coughlin the comedian
Giants coach Tom Coughlin showed off his new, looser side today when asked if his team would defer and kick to New England if it won the opening coin toss for Super Bowl XLII.
"We're going to give the Patriots the ball one more time," Coughlin cracked. "That's what we're setting out to do. They don't do enough with their opportunities."
Taylor, Favre win FedEx awards
Jacksonville running back Fred Taylor and Green Bay quarterback Brett Favre were named this season's winners of the FedEx ground and air players of the year awards, respectively.
Taylor beat out Vikings rookie Adrian Peterson and San Diego's LaDainian Tomlinson for the ground award.
New England's Tom Brady and Dallas' Tony Romo were the other finalists for the air award.
Favre, asked if he has made any decision about his future, said he hasn't yet and would discuss it with Packers coach Mike McCarthy in a couple of weeks when the team's coaching staff returns from the Pro Bowl.
Maroney still a Gophers fan
Tim Brewster suffered through a 1-11 season in his first season at the University of Minnesota, but former Gophers running back Laurence Maroney said he sees better days ahead.
"It was a tough first year," Maroney said in Phoenix, where he and the New England Patriots are preparing for Super Bowl XLII. "Introducing a new offense to an offense of (Glen) Mason's, which was a zone-run scheme or nothing but run and trying to convert those guys to a spread passing offense. But I've still got confidence and faith in the guy that he's going to get us back to where we need to get to."
Selected by the Patriots with the 21st selection of the 2006 NFL draft, four spots after the Vikings grabbed linebacker Chad Greenway, Barber said he "knew I had no chance" of ending up with the local NFL team, and not just because it had already signed Chester Taylor.
"I was hoping that I would because they see me a lot. They heard about me a lot," Maroney said. " … I was hoping that they were looking at me, but during the whole process I really didn’t hear anything about the Vikings so I really didn't think I would go there."
As for Brewster and the Gophers, Maroney said he's keeping his fingers crossed.
"Hopefully, next year they come out and get a good recruiting class and do a little better than we did this year," he said.
Randy Moss spent a full hour at the podium during the Patriots' portion of Media Day and resisted an invitation to have a laugh on the Vikings or his other former team in Oakland.
"No, I'm not that type, man," he said. "I don't really get back at people like that. I think that whatever the past is or whatever happened in the past, I'm going to leave it there and the reason why is because I'm on a high pedestal just as far as being in the Super Bowl, the team coming to this game undefeated. Everything that's happened has been positive this year and I don't want to reflect on anything negative. I've never been that type. I think that's what really drives me and makes me stronger to go out there and make things happen."
When he was in Minnesota, Moss said he wanted to retire as a Viking, but with possible free agency looming, he isn't looking to go anywhere.
"As a New England Patriot, I would love to finish my career (here)," he said. "Just for the fact that they have everything that you want in a football organization. … For me to able to say that I would ... finish my career there, that's something that I can really, really believe in."
Moss on center stage
Randy Moss figures to draw one of the biggest crowds today during the Patriots' portion of Media Day at University of Phoenix Stadium.
This will be the first media opportunity of Super Bowl week for Moss, with only coach Bill Belichick and selected players available during the team's first two days in Phoenix.
All players and coaches are required to attend this session.
The Patriots are first up this morning, with the Giants to follow.
Attending the Super Bowl as a spectator, Vikings rookie running back Adrian Peterson said he is anxious to come back as a player and believes his team is capable of doing so in the very near future.
Peterson appeared with Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald at a press conference for Visa Financial Football, a program that teaches high school students to manage their financial futures through a multiple-choice, quiz-type game.
In a brief demonstration game, Peterson's Vikings team played Fitzgerald's Cardinals squad to a 7-7 tie.
Peterson's father, Nelson, said he and 25 family members will accompany the Vikings' rookie star to the Pro Bowl in Hawaii after Sunday's game between New England and the New York Giants.
Fitzgerald didn't predict a Super Bowl for the Cardinals, but he did say: "We're going to be in the playoffs next season. I guarantee that."
Busy week for Peterson
The Vikings didn't make it to the Super Bowl, but rookie running back Adrian Peterson has a full schedule here in Phoenix.
This afternoon, he will participate in a press conference for Financial Football, an instructional program that introduces high school-aged students to investment strategies.
Wednesday, Peterson will join Saints quarterback Drew Brees and Eagles running back Brian Westbrook for another media event to promote three new hamburgers for Chili's Bar and Grill.
Last but not least, Peterson is one of five finalists for this year's Diet Pepsi rookie of the year award, which will be announced Thursday.
Brady says he's playing
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady admits his right ankle is hurting, but he said it won't keep him from playing in Super Bowl XLII against the New York Giants.
"It's feeling good," Brady said after arriving in Phoenix. "I'll be ready to go."
Brady said he suffered the injury early in the third quarter of the Patriots' 21-12 AFC title-game win over San Diego and joked that it didn't affect his first interception.
"I wish I could blame that on the ankle," he said.
Asked if he expects to practice Wednesday, Brady said: "I don't know. It's a couple days away, but I'm feeling better."
Asked how much actual dropping and throwing he has done since the San Diego game, he admitted not much.
"I've done just a little bit," he said. "I've jogged around and I've shuffled and dropped and thrown the ball a little bit. Not enough as if I would have been practicing but enough that I know I'm going to play on Sunday."
Brady's ankle became the subject of a media circus last Monday when he was photographed walking the streets of New York in a protective boot.
On being pursued by the paparazzi, Brady said: "It was an interesting week. I'm much lighter on my toes than I thought."
He also said he was glad to be back "in the insulated halls of our locker room" and the protective custody of his offensive linemen.
"So don't any of you chase me around," he said. "I won't be nearly as nice as I was last week."
Greetings from Phoenix
Super Bowl week officially kicks off today when the AFC-champion New England Patriots arrive in Phoenix for an evening news conference.
Think there might be a few questions about Tom Brady's right ankle?
The NFC-champion New York Giants don't arrive until Monday and things really get cooking Tuesday with media day.
It's raining here, but University of Phoenix stadium features a retractable roof, so weather won't be a factor Sunday.
Check back often this week for updates as we count down the days to Super Bowl XLII.
Love those Raiders
ESPN's Chris Mortensen is reporting that Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis has been pushing for coach Lane Kiffin to resign and is considering former Vikings coach Dennis Green as a possible replacement.
Mortensen reported that Davis even has drafted a letter of resignation for Kiffin, who went 4-12 in his first season and so far has refused to sign.
Kiffin, a former Bloomington Jefferson High quarterback, has two years remaining on his Raiders contract.
Green, in a comment to ESPN, downplayed his potential candidacy.
"I haven't really talked to Al about any coaching job," he said, "but, really, how many times has my name been mentioned every time something goes on with the Raiders?"
Report: Falcons to hire Jags' Smith
ESPN is reporting that the Atlanta Falcons are expected to hire Jacksonville Jaguars defensive coordinator Mike Smith as head coach, perhaps as soon as this afternoon.
According to the report, Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier was believed to be the team's second choice.
The Falcons reportedly were interested in New York Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo but were unwilling to wait to until after Super Bowl XLII to interview him.
Frazier also interviewed for the Miami Dolphins' head-coaching job, which went to Dallas Cowboys assistant Tony Sparano.
Vikings get 17th overall pick
The NFL issued an updated draft order. The Vikings will select 17th overall.
There were four teams with 8-8 records. But the Vikings strength of schedule was the second-easiest, at .504, behind the Arizona Cardinals (.434). The Houston Texand (.516) and the Philadelphia Eagles (.563) have the 18th and 19th picks, respectively.
The Vikings didn't do so bad the last time they had No. 17. In 2006, that pick landed them LB Chad Greenway, who just had a very solid season.
In the NFC North, the Chicago Bears pick 14th, with the Detroit Lions one spot behind them. The Green Bay Packers have the 30th pick.
Peterson lands deal with Chili's
Vikings RB Adrian Peterson has signed a deal with the restaurant chain Chili's to promote one of its new smokehouse hamburgers.
Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints and Brian Westbrook of the Philadelphia Eagles are the other two NFL players involved in this campaign.
Peterson will spend a portion of Super Bowl week in Phoenix to promote the burgers.
Frazier to interview with Falcons
The Atlanta Falcons are interviewing Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier for the vacant head coaching position today, a Vikings spokesman said.
The news was first reported by ESPN.com.
The Falcons have expanded their search, after the hire of new general manager Tom Dimitroff, who was a candidate for a position with the Vikings two years ago.
Frazier, who interviewed for the Miami Dolphins vacancy, finished his first season with the Vikings.
The Falcons have interviewed seven candidates, ESPN said.
With two more jobs filling up, the only vacancies are with the Falcons and the Washington Redskins.
Loney latches on with Rams
Former Vikings offensive line coach Steve Loney has been hired in that same capacity by the St. Louis Rams, ESPN reported.
Loney will once again work with Scott Linehan, the former Vikings offensive coordinator who is now the Rams head coach. Loney was the Arizona Cardinals offensive line coach in 2006, and he was the Vikings offensive coordinator in 2005.
Hold the press in Indy
Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy denied internet reports that he has stepped down.
Dungy told ESPN that he will talk with his wife and make a decision this weekend.
"Believe it or not, I'm going to go through the process just like I said I would," Dungy told ESPN. "(Owner) Jim Irsay and I, along with (team president) Bill Polian, have have been talking about this for the last couple of days in Indianapolis. Jim wants me to open the new stadium. I'm not opposed to it, my wife it not opposed to it. I'm going to go through this process to make sure that I should do it."
Dungy said Irsay will be the first to know of his decision on Monday.
"Nobody else will know about it before Jim," he told ESPN.
Dolphins hire Sparano
The Miami Dolphins have hired Dallas Cowboys assistant head coach Tony Sparano to be their head coach, according to FOXSports.com.
Dolphins officials contacted the other candidates to inform them of their decision, FOXSports reported.
That rules out Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, who interviewed for the vacancy. As of now, he has not emerged as a candidate for the openings with the Washington Redskins or the Atlanta Falcons.
He could, however, become a player in Indianapolis, if Colts head coach Tony Dungy retires.
Three former Vikings among 17 Hall of Fame finalists
WR Cris Carter, OG Randall McDaniel and OT Gary Zimmerman are among the 17 finalists announced today by the Pro Football Hall of Fame for the 2008 class.
The Class of 2008 will be announced at a press conference on Saturday, February 2, at the Super Bowl media center in the Phoenix Convention Center.
There are currently seven Vikings enshrined at the Hall of Fame. They are: Carl Eller, Jim Finks, Bud Grant, Paul Krause, Alan Page, Fran Tarkenton and Ron Yary.
Frazier enjoyed interview with Dolphins
Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier was flattered and "honored" to interview for the Miami Dolphins head-coaching job, but he has no qualms about remaining in Minnesota.
As he discussed ways to improve his defense in 2008, Frazier said he got a "sudden" phone call from the Dolphins.
"I was pleased about that phone call," he said Friday. "But, at the same time, I was torn because I want us to be playing in that postseason next year."
Frazier then rattled off a number of the positives from this season, from his defense allowing few points to the emergence of middle linebacker E.J. Henderson.
"It really gets you pumped up about the future. And if we tighten up some things, I think we’re really close to something special," he said. "I really do believe that."
Frazier said Dolphin officials have confirmed what he thought: that he had a strong interview with owner Wayne Huizenga, president Bryan Wiedmeier and Bill Parcells, the new vice president of football operations.
Asked if he was concerned about the Dolphins interviewing him to fulfill the NFL's Rooney Rule, Frazier said, "I didn’t approach it from that point of view.
"I looked at it as a great opportunity for me. I prepared, and I felt like the interview was a legitimate interview. I felt like they were giving me a shot at the job."
Frazier, though, insisted he is happy that the Rooney Rule exists, and added, "I think it makes a difference."
Frazier said he is not sure of the timetable. But he's got plenty of work to do at Winter Park.
"Believe me, I ain’t losing any sleep about that job," Frazier said. "I’ve got a great job here, and I’m excited about the future here. It would be great if that opportunity (comes).
"I really believe if we take care of opportunities here, there will be other opportunities."
Two Vikings named to Pro Football Weekly All-NFL team
DT Kevin Williams and G Steve Hutchinson were the two representatives for the Vikings on Pro Football Weekly/ Professional Football Writers of America All-NFL team.
Pro Football Weekly and the Professional Football Writers of America only select the top 22 players, along with five specialists.
RB Adrian Peterson was the Rookie of the Year, and he also was selected to the All-Rookie team. Brian Robison was one of the two defensive ends on the All-Rookie team.
Hutchinson and Kevin Williams All-Pro first teamers
Vikings G Steve Hutchinson and DT Kevin Williams were named to the All-Pro, first team on Wednesday.
DT Pat Williams, RB Adrian Peterson, FB Tony Richardson and S Darren Sharper were second-team selections.
The All-Pro team is a special honor because it is based on the entire league, not differentiated by conference like the Pro Bowl.
The first-team All-Pro running backs were LaDainian Tomlinson and Brian Westbrook.
Sharper to work the sidelines
Vikings S Darren Sharper will serve as a player correspondent for NFL Network’s divisional playoff coverage this weekend, the NFL Network announced.
Sharper will work with NFL Network reporter Michelle Beisner on coverage of Saturday’s San Diego Chargers at the Indianapolis Colts game.
Frazier on Dolphins interview: "I think I did very well"
Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier provided The Miami Herald a positive spin on his interview with the Miami Dolphins.
"I think I did very well,'' Frazier told The Miami Herald. "You have to talk to Bill Parcells and Jeff Ireland to see their thoughts on that. They're the ones you should talk to, but I was happy with how I did.
"I was honest and forthright. That's all you can do in that situation. Like I said, I think I did well."
That's not a surprise; Frazier is about as honest as they come.
But the Dolphins are moving forward, with the Herald reporting that Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan was up next. Also, Dallas Cowboys assistant head coach Tony Sparano interviewed for the job over the weekend and is considered the favorite for the job.
There have been questions about the legitimacy of his interview, because he is African American and the NFL mandates teams interview a minority candidate before hiring a head coach. But Frazier didn't see any problem with his interview.
''I think [the rule] was respected,'' Frazier said. "Having myself in, and I don't know who the other candidates are, but them giving me the opportunity to sit down and talk about the job shows that they respect it. We'll just have to see what happens from there.''
Frazier interview legit?
Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier is scheduled to speak to Miami Dolphin officials tonight and tomorrow about their vacant head coaching job. But there continues to be alarming stories related to the Dolphins.
According to The Miami Herald, the Dolphins have already hired David Lee as the quarterbacks coach. That's a fairly significant position. So why would the Dolphins do that? Perhaps because they already have picked out their head coach.
Sadly, by interviewing Frazier, the Dolphins would fulfill the Rooney Rule, which requires a team interview a minority candidate before hiring a head coach.
This is a difficult issue, since the spirit of the rule is to promote equity. But, in reality, some good people like Frazier could be dragged through a pointless interview.
If that proves to be the case, the league needs to revisit this whole rule -- or start punishing the teams that make a mockery of it.
Vikings sign a Saluki WR
The Vikings signed Southern Illinois WR Brent Little on Friday.
Little went undrafted and attended training camp with the Cleveland Browns.
Little is 6-foot, and he runs the 40-yard dash in 4.4 seconds.
A four-year starter, he caught 124 passes for 2,303 yards and 20 touchdowns at Southern Illinois.
Here is what a Sports Illustrated draft preview said of him:
POSITIVES: Solid small-school receiver with marginal NFL potential. Comes back to the ball out of breaks, offers the quarterback a nice target and displays good eye/hand coordination. Runs well laterally making the reception in stride and uses his body to shield away opponents.
NEGATIVES: Not quick releasing off the line, lacks a second gear and home run-hitting speed. Good size, yet seems to have difficulties in battles.
Woods to remain with the Vikings
Defensive backs coach Joe Woods interviewed with the Detroit Lions for a position, but he has decided to stay with the Vikings.
Woods just wrapped up his second season with the Vikings, and the pass defense was ranked last in the NFL. But Woods was key in developing rookie cornerback Marcus McCauley, who had to fill in for injured veteran Antoine Winfield.
USA Today announces Vikings MVP
Interesting pick by USA Today, for the Vikings' MVP.
The paper named an MVP on every team, and the Vikings' winner was G Steve Hutchinson. Here is the paper's justification: "Yes, Adrian Peterson had a stellar rookie season. But Hutchinson is the best player on arguably the NFL's best offensive line. He paved the way for 16 games against nine- and 10-man fronts as the Vikings finished as the league's top rushing team. Peterson missed 2½ games and disappeared down the stretch."
While the Vikings do have an outstanding offensive line, I'm fairly certain this is not the best unit in the entire league. RT Ryan Cook still looked shaky at key stretches and on key plays (safety against the Denver Broncos). The Vikings O-line was outstanding against the run, but struggled to protect the quarterback in several games. The offensive line in New England isn't too shabby, and neither are the ones in San Diego, Jacksonville, Dallas and Green Bay, just to name a few.
Frazier to interview for Dolphins job
Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier will interview for the Miami Dolphins head coaching job, The Miami Herald reported on its website.
Vikings coach Brad Childress indicated during his season-ending press conference that he had given two NFL teams permission to speak to his assistants, although he declined to provide more specifics.
''I'm just looking forward to sitting down and talking to Bill (Parcells) and Jeff (Ireland) and the owner to get a feel what they're looking for in a headcoach,'" Frazier told The Miami Herald.
Jackson evaluation still "ongoing," Childress said
Vikings coach Brad Childress didn't exactly give quarterback Tarvaris Jackson a vote of confidence, at least not publicly.
"That process is still ongoing," Childress said of Jackson's evaluation. "...But I was able to talk to Tarvaris this morning, and have a great eye-to-eye with him. Kevin (Rogers) spoke with him yesterday. I thought he continued to make progress, as we went through, and hopefully that’s a things to come picture of what you saw there in the last five minutes, playing wide open and cutting loose with it and making plays with his arm and his feet."
Asked if he would be comfortable with Jackson as his starter in 2008, Childress said, "You know, I don’t know that it’s ever good to get comfortable.
"But I’m glad that I saw progress from him – positive progress from him – and he has a lot of things that they collectively and individually need to improve on," Childress said. "So We’ll see if those things come to fruition as we keep moving."
Childress also said he expected Kelly Holcomb and Brooks Bollinger back, although he tempered that by saying, "good football players are what we’re all about, and I haven’t even started to assess the draft or free agency yet, and see what’s out there.
"So this is a fluid situation."
Finally, regarding Jackson, Childress was asked if he hasn't said anything more definitive about his quarterback to motivate him.
"Yeah, I’m not interested in trying to motivate him by leaving a cloud of doubt," Childress said. "He knows exactly how I feel about him. And, again, those are conversations that are between coach and quarterback."
Childress, though, insisted that improving the passing offense and improving the passing defense are the offseason priorities.
* Childress said the Wilfs have given him full support in pursuing free agents this offseason.
"If we deem it necessary, money is not an issue," Childress said. "We just want to make sure that you’re smart, on how you’re spending your money, and who you bring into the mix."
* Still, Childress said building the team through the draft is the priority.
* Childress said he has given two teams permission to speak to his assistants. The Baltimore Ravens, the Atlanta Falcons and the Miami Dolphins all have openings.
Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier would appear the most likely candidate.
* CB Antoine Winfield, DT Pat Williams, WR Bobby Wade, DE Jayme Mitchell and LT Bryant McKinnie all will have some sort of procedure during the offseason.
* Regarding WR Troy Williamson, "One thing I have to say about Troy is, Troy worked extremely hard this offseason to try to better himself.
"He tried different things. We tried different things to improve. He’s still under contract to the Minnesota Vikings, and he’s a part of those ongoing discussions that we’ll have next week when we talk about the receiver position."
Peterson is Diet Pepsi Rookie of the Year finalist
Vikings RB Adrian Peterson is a finalist for the 2007 Diet Pepsi Rookie of the Year award, along with Chiefs WR Dwayne Bowe, Bills RB Marshawn Lynch, 49ers LB Patrick Willis and Browns T Joe Thomas.
The winner will be announced on the Thursday before the Super Bowl.
On Wednesday, Peterson was named the Associated Press Offensive Rookie of the Year.
A.P. named AP's NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year
Adrian Peterson, who finished second in rushing yards as a rookie this season, was the overwhelming winner of The Associated Press NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Peterson got 461/2 votes Wednesday from a nationwide panel of 50 media members who regularly cover the NFL. Cleveland tackle Joe Thomas was the only other player receiving votes, 31/2.
"I added to things they already had," Peterson said, according to the Associated Press. "I am a playmaker. That's why I say if there is anything I could do to put me out there, just put me out there.
"I wanted to come in and be a difference and help the team turn around. I came with the attitude to do whatever I had to do to get on the field."
Vikings coach Brad Childress told the Associated Press that he could tell Peterson was special .
"From an early time, a week after the draft when we had about 50 free agents in here, you knew he was going to be a special guy," Childress said.
Last year's winner was Tennessee Titans quarterback Vince Young.
Edwards suspension lifted
The four-game suspension of Vikings DE Ray Edwards was officially lifted by NFL Comimssioner Roger Goodell on Monday.
Edwards, who was suspended for violating the league's steroids and related substances policy, finished the season with five sacks, which was tied for the team lead with LB Ben Leber and DE Kenechi Udeze.