The Vikings wined and dined free-agent running back LaDainian Tomlinson on Wednesday night at a steakhouse in downtown Minneapolis. Coach Brad Childress and vice president of player personnel Rick Spielman headlined a group of team officials that included offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, running backs coach Eric Bieniemy, director of player personnel George Paton and even nose tackle Pat Williams.
Afterward, Tomlinson stopped to answer a few questions from a Star Tribune reporter who had no less than 10 cups of coffee and right now is typing at a speed rarely seen on this keyboard.
Q. What's it like having the opportunity to shop yourself after being in San Diego for so many seasons?
A. "It's like recruiting all over again, like going from high school to college. You just kind of have to kind of get a feel and see where you fit in at and see how it goes."
Q. What's your sense about this team being on the verge of a Super Bowl and having that opportunity?
A. "That's the thing I love most because this is a team that's right there. It has the veterans and the young guys that fit in together. It's a very talented team with a great coaching staff. It's a very supportive [environment]. That's what you want."
Q. What's your feeling after getting a chance to sit down for a few hours at dinner?
A. "I think it's great. I obviously really enjoy Coach Childress, E.B., guys that I'm going to spend a lot of time around. Even Pat, just getting a chance to really sit down with him. It was light. The mood was light and that's what you ask for."
Q. What's the key that needs to happen on Thursday when you spend time meeting at Winter Park?
A. "I'm not sure yet. I think we're just going to get in, talk about some football and stuff. Philosophies. That type of stuff."
Q. There is question about how well you would accept a third-down role behind Adrian Peterson. Is that something you would be willing to step into or would you have a problem with it?
A. "I don't [have a problem with it]. I know I can catch the ball really well out of the backfield, can run routes and that's something that I've always looked for as I got older in my career. Being able to fall back on that. Not having to carry the ball as much. I think that's what was lost in San Diego because I was the only guy that could really carry the ball 20 times. So my third-down role was reduced. So now I'm looking for that. It's something I can do and I can fit in well."
Q. When was the last time you played regularly on third down?
A. "Actually, this was the first year that I didn't play on third down."
Q. How much can you help Adrian Peterson develop?
A. "I think as far as learning how to be a professional on and off the field. Having been through a lot of stuff that he's going through, I could kind of help him go through it without any headaches. Also, just the approach to the game and also the offseason. I think I could help him out a lot."
Q. Have you talked to Peterson since you arrived?
A. "I haven't talked to him since I've been here. Not yet."
Q. What would the opportunity to play with Brett Favre mean to you?
A. "The opportunity to play with Brett would be unbelievable, incredible. So many years I've watched Brett and also played against him and admire him so much. Imagining him just throwing the ball to me out of the backfield or something like that, it would be something I can always remember and also tell my kids about."
Q. How close is this team to a Super Bowl?
A. "Very close. They are right at the top of the situation I was looking for when I first said I want to go somewhere and have a chance to win a championship."
Q. NFL.com reports you have another potential visit that you could make this week? Is that correct?
Q. Can you say which team?
A. "I won't say as of now but we'll see."
Q. So you are scheduled to leave Thursday night or possibly sign?
Q. Do you think something could get done on Thursday?
A. "I don't know. My agent is definitely here in town."
Q. Prefer to sign here or would you like to make that next trip?
A. "I think it depends. It depends on how it goes tomorrow."
Q. What do you need to hear on Thursday from the Vikings?
A. "I think it's a feel that you have to have. It's not necessarily anything you're going to hear because I've heard what I like to hear. I have a role on this team. I think it's a feel that you have to have."