Adrian Peterson had a dream come true Monday night after the Vikings victory over the Bears when he met his boyhood idol, Emmitt Smith, the great former Cowboys running back.
Smith also was one of three members of ESPN's postgame panel who interviewed Peterson for about 20 minutes. "It was an honor," The Texas native said about meeting Smith. "I definitely watched him growing up in Texas. And being a Cowboy fan growing up ... he was definitely a back that I watched and learned a lot from."
After the interview, Peterson had a long chat with Smith. Peterson plans to keep in touch with Smith and look for any advice he can get.
Smith, who fumbled only 61 times in 15 seasons, had some tips for Peterson on how to hang on to the ball.
"As far as just having longevity here in this league, he gave me some little hints of how to go down, keeping your legs together when I'm jumping, and just really little things like that," Peterson said.
The 49ers and the Bears have held Peterson to a total of 81 yards rushing, but he is not discouraged after strong performances against other teams.
"As long as we just stick to the game plan, keep pounding, eventually we're going to be able to make some plays," said Peterson, who has rushed for 1,278 yards this season.
Peterson, who was practically shut out by the Bears for three quarters but got a big touchdown in the fourth quarter, wasn't disappointed in his performance against the Bears.
"I feel like I played all right. I made some mistakes, but we made up for them," he said "And most importantly we came out with the victory."
Peterson said he feels he's back on track.
"I tried to correct a lot of things that I saw on tape the other week and I just tried to come out Monday night and stay consistent and improve on things that I corrected," he said.
Being named to the Pro Bowl this week, joining six other Vikings, will come at a price, though. As a rookie, he'll be picking up a lot of tabs.
"Yeah, a couple guys already gave me a heads-up to have my card ready, so I guess it is just a part of it," he said, laughing. "But with those guys, Tony Richardson, Hutch [Steve Hutchinson], Matt Birk, I wouldn't mind doing anything for those guys, because without those guys, I wouldn't be going to the Pro Bowl."Bettman should act
You wonder if NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman will step in, as he should, and let the Islanders know that you don't penalize college hockey by signing a player like the Gophers' Kyle Okposo in the middle of the season. Then the bush General Manager Garth Snow of the Islanders, whose team hasn't won a Stanley Cup since the days of Mike Bossy and Denis Potvin, criticizes Gophers coach Don Lucia for not being happy with the move.
The WCHA rookie of the week award won by Mike Hoeffel was the first award won by the 9-8-1 Gophers, who are idle until Dec. 29, when they will be able to add Mike Carman and Justin Bostrom.Future stars play
The top high school football players in the country play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl Game on Jan. 5 in San Antonio . Nolan Brewster, son of the Gophers coach Tim Brewster, who has committed to Texas, has been named to the West team. There still is a good chance the safety from Denver will be a Gopher. Cretin-Derham Hall receiver Michael Floyd, who recently committed to Notre Dame, is also on the West team.
The East team includes defensive tackle Jewhan Edwards of Philadelphia, who recently committed to Minnesota, and quarterback MarQueis Gray, of Indianapolis, who could announce he is going to sign with Minnesota the week of the game. The East team also includes two Texas players who the Gophers have aggressively recruited: safety Keanon Cooper of Dallas and defensive tackle Roddick Davis of Houston.Jottings
The scene after the Pistons handed the Celtics their first home loss on Wednesday found Kevin Garnett with a big handshake and a hug for former coach Flip Saunders.
The last time Joe Gibbs coached in the Metrodome was in Super Bowl XXVI in 1992, when the Redskins beat Buffalo.
Injuries have really hit the Timberwolves hard, with players missing 69 games. ... For some time, the Wolves were giving strong consideration to sending second-round draft choice Chris Richard to the NBA development league. But coach Randy Wittman, impressed by Richard's toughness, has been playing the former Florida star and he definitely will stay with the team.
Duran Carter, son of former Viking wide receiver Cris Carter, had two catches for 63 yards and two touchdowns to help Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas win the Florida Class 5A state championship 35-20 over Osceola. On the year, Carter had 22 catches for 361 yards and eight touchdowns.
Ben Fischer, who was a football redshirt at Minnesota last year before deciding to leave school, is playing basketball for Winona State. And John Nance, the Cretin-Derham Hall quarterback who has committed to Minnesota, told GopherIllustrated.com that he will visit Winona State in January to talk about playing basketball there. ... Former Gophers center Greg Eslinger, who was released by the Browns after they had acquired him from the Broncos, was signed to the Texans' practice squad.
Gophers baseball player Jon Hummel, a senior from Lakefield, Minn., who will graduate with a degree in turf management, has been offered an internship with the Boston Red Sox grounds crew next summer. ... The Gophers added another outstanding swimmer when Zach Bolin of Blue Springs, Mo., the 500-meter freestyle Missouri state champion as a junior signed with the Gophers.
Former Gophers golfer Tom Lehman won't play any golf until early next year because of elbow problems, according to his brother, Jim. Tom will play host to six golfers at his home in Scottsdale, Ariz., next month. The golfers will play nine holes with him and nine holes with Australian Aaron Baddeley for a $20,000 donation to a charity called HopeKids. Lehman and Baddeley did something similar last summer at the TPC Twin Cities after Baddeley played in the U.S. Open.