Harrison Smith was the first of several Vikings asked by the Star Tribune to cast his vote for the NFL’s most exciting player.
Before he pulled the lever, the All-Pro safety introduced and passed the “Harrison Smith Rule” to protect the integrity of the election against potential Purple favoritism.
“I could pick a lot of guys on this team,” he said. “But I can’t pick a Viking because that’s just so cliché. So, I say, ‘No Vikings.’ ”
So it is written. After all, if Aaron Rodgers can have an entire NFL rule about squashing quarterbacks named after him, Harry can at least have one that governs the locker room at TCO Performance Center.
“For me, I’d have to say Tyreek Hill,” said Smith, referring to the Chiefs’ receiver/return man. “He’s pretty explosive. And really fun to watch.”
Hill’s four touchdowns are tied for the league lead with Rams running back Todd Gurley and Bengals receiver A.J. Green. With a couple of two-pointers tacked on, Gurley leads the NFL with 28 points.
“I got to go running back,” running back Latavius Murray said. “Give me Todd Gurley. Catching the ball and running the ball, he’s special.”
Receiver Laquon Treadwell was asked to weigh in.
“The most exciting? Me!” he said, jokingly, before the Green Bay game.
Sorry. No Vikings.
“I like Tyreek,” Treadwell said. “Those kinds of guys come around once in a lifetime. So explosive and able to run free like that in the National Football League as many times as he does. And then I like that he gives you the deuces sign.”
The 5-10, 185-pound Hill has been known to flash slower defenders two fingers as a nod to the 4.24 speed that makes him the self-proclaimed “Cheetah.”
Left guard Tom Compton was stumped by the question.
“I have no clue,” he said. “I watch offensive linemen.”
Pick your favorite. Just remember the “Harrison Smith Rule.”
“Andy Levitre,” said Compton, referring to the Falcons guard. “I like watching him play. He brings a lot of energy, passion. Plus, he’s got great [touchdown] celebrations.”
A celebrating guard was enough to send the pollster looking for someone on the other side of the ball. Someone like end Stephen Weatherly.
“Easy,” he said, pointing at Smith. “Harry!”
“No Vikings!” Smith barked.
“Tyreek,” Weatherly said. “Whether he gets the ball on offense or special teams, it’s like the whole stadium, home or away, holds its breath to see what happens next.”
With eventual winner Hill running away with the election, Smith felt the need to inject some defenders into the conversation.
“I like watching defensive guys most, but most people don’t,” Smith said. “Khalil Mack is fun to watch. Von Miller is exciting. Marcus Peters is always making plays. And a safety who doesn’t get enough love is Reshad Jones in Miami.”
Middle linebacker Eric Kendricks went defense. too.
“Linebackers are most exciting,” he said. “Give me Deion Jones in Atlanta. I think he plays with crazy energy. I like that.”
Another All-Pro was brought into the conversation. A very indecisive one in cornerback Xavier Rhodes, who picked 10 players and stomped all over the “Harrison Smith Rule” in the process.
“Man, there’s a bunch of them,” he said. “But, let’s see. Who’s not only good, but gives you a show? Like, let me get my popcorn and watch this guy show.”
He then named Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Julio Jones, Antonio Brown, A.J. Green, Hill and …
“Then you have Harry,” he said.
“No Vikings!” an eavesdropping Smith yelled.
“You got Griff [Everson Griffen],” Rhodes continued. “You got me.”
Smith closed in to enforce his rule.
“I guess I’d say Julio because I was sitting at home Week 1 and I told my lady, ‘I’m looking forward to watching Julio play,’ ” Rhodes said. “But then there’s Brady. When he’s like 14 down, it’s like, ‘Time to watch something special.’ ”
C’mon, Xavier. While we’re young.
“It’s hard to pick just one guy,” he said. “But if I had to, I guess I’ll say Brady. But there are so many exciting superstars in this league. You can’t just name one.”
Mark Craig is an NFL and Vikings Insider. Twitter: @markcraigNFL. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org