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Continued: Sportsperson of the year: Peterson is runaway winner

  • Article by: DAN WIEDERER , Star Tribune
  • Last update: December 23, 2012 - 8:24 PM

Kalil? He’s been a part of Peterson’s mastery for all of 14 games and could only laugh in the locker room last Sunday after Peterson demoralized the Rams with 212 rushing yards.

"It’s kind of getting old," Kalil says, mostly joking. "He’s so good ... I’m following him downfield. It’s like front row seats for the best movie ever."

And then there’s Frazier, whose impressive ability to stabilize and focus a team would seem so much less significant if he didn’t have the playmaker in the 28 jersey to lean on.

Frazier calls Peterson "a great player who guys gravitate to and love to play with."

"The way our team has stuck together throughout the year, even during bumps in the road, is a direct reflection of Adrian’s approach," Frazier says. "The football part is amazing. We’re all in awe of his accomplishments. But his humility and his style of leadership resonates."

Frazier pauses, searching for the most complete way to express his appreciation.

"It’s rare that a guy of this magnitude is as gracious as Adrian," he says. "Over time, I’ve been around some very good players. And they make it clear in no uncertain terms that it’s about them. All about them. Adrian is not like that."

So now come those three letters: MVP, a title Peterson has every right to claim for the first time this season.

Ask him about it and he insists he has higher goals: reaching the playoffs and making a run at the Super Bowl.

Sure, that sentiment is sincere. But don’t think for a second it means Peterson doesn’t care at all about being named MVP. Remember, he doesn’t respond well to not winning.

You may not recall 2004, when after rushing for 1,925 yards and 15 touchdowns as a freshman at Oklahoma, Peterson finished as runner-up to Southern California’s Matt Leinart for the Heisman Trophy. But Peterson does.

"I feel like I got robbed," he says, shaking his head as if the announcement had just come. "Without question. I was robbed. And it still bothers me."

Then, as usual, he shrugs.

"But I guess I can look at it like this. At least Matt Leinart has something he can look back on and say, ‘Bam! I won a Heisman Trophy.’"

Perhaps Peterson soon will have to convince himself to feel similarly pleased for Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady. So be it.

"In my mind," he says, "whether I get the MVP or not, I’m a winner. Just look at my story. I don’t really feel like I have to say much."

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