Optimism, Pessimism, And Realism

USA TODAY Sports

Today could be a huge day for both the Minnesota Vikings and their fans.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame will make their announcement for the Hall of Fame Class of 2013 at 4:30 PM Central time. Once again, former Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Cris Carter will be one of the former players attempting to reach immortality in Canton. He's been passed over five times already for this honor, which is ridiculous.

Following that, the NFL will have the second annual "NFL Honors" show in New Orleans. That show will feature all of the awards for the 2012-13 NFL season, including those given out by the Associated Press. That means that this evening, we will finally learn whether or not Adrian Peterson's dazzling performance this season will be enough to get him the league's Most Valuable Player Award. The show airs at 8 PM Central on CBS, but the show will be taped starting at 6 PM Central. . .and, if it's anything like last year's NFL Honors, the Twitter and other forms of social media will destroy any drama that could potentially be associated with the event well in advance.

If Cris Carter ends up finally breaking through and getting into the Hall of Fame and Adrian Peterson does take home the MVP award, it would be one of the bigger days that Vikings fans have gotten to experience in a while.

Which is why, at this point, I would be surprised if either of them actually happened.

As far as the Hall of Fame. . .let's just get it out of the way now. Cris Carter is probably going to get screwed again. You know it, I know it. . .and, deep down, Cris Carter probably knows it. The guy was worthy of first-ballot enshrinement, as much as any candidate that's on this year's list, and the fact that he's on his sixth try is ludicrous. Yes, there's an alleged "log jam" at the receiver position with Carter, Tim Brown, and Andre Reed. The thing is that Cris Carter is better than either of those guys. Maybe Tim Brown shooting his mouth off a week or so ago about Bill Callahan possibly throwing the Oakland Raiders' Super Bowl appearance against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will lose him enough votes for Carter to finally break through. . .but I'm not going to get my hopes up.

Once again, we'll hear things like "Well, Cris Carter never got a Super Bowl ring". . .because, you know, using a team goal to quantify individual greatness makes a lot of sense.

We'll hear things like "You know, he was never truly great". . .ignoring the fact that, when he retired, he had more receptions, yardage, and touchdowns than anyone not named Jerry Rice. And with the "pass happy" National Football League, more than a decade after he left the game, he's still in the Top 10 in all three of those categories.

We'll hear things like "Cris Carter was never really media-friendly." Because, even though I'm under the impression that this is the Pro Football Hall of Fame, there are some people that apparently think that this is the Pro Football Hall of Congeniality or the Pro Football Hall of Nice. It shouldn't make any difference if Cris Carter turned you down for an interview back in 1993 or some stupid thing like that. On the field, he's a Hall of Famer. The end.

This moves us on to Adrian Peterson and his quest to be the National Football League's Most Valuable Player. Now, we all know that no single player in the National Football League was more important to his team in 2012 than Adrian Peterson was. (As we've asked before. . .how many games do you think the 2012 Vikings win with Toby Gerhart starting 16 games at running back?) We all know that no single player in the National Football League had a better individual season than Adrian Peterson. I'm not sure if anybody outside the greater Denver metropolitan area would dispute either of those things.

But, in the back of our minds, we know that Peterson's main competition for the award is Peyton Manning. We know that the media at large. . .the people that vote on these things. . .love, love, loooooooooooooooooooove them some Peyton Manning, and it's easy to see why. Manning came back from a terrible injury in 2012, much like Adrian Peterson did. Manning did, indeed, have a great season in 2012, just like Adrian Peterson did. And, yes, while Peyton Manning's 2012 season was very good, Adrian Peterson's 2012 season was historically great.

But, in case you haven't heard, it's a passing league now. Just ignore that the top four rushing offenses in the NFL (and seven of the top eleven) "somehow" found their way into the playoffs in 2012, or that tomorrow's Super Bowl will be contested between the teams with the 15th-best (Baltimore) and 23rd-best (San Francisco) passing attacks in the NFL. It's totally a passing league now. Just ask anybody. And because it's (allegedly) a passing league, I just can't get the feeling out of my head that Manning is going to somehow swoop in and take this award from the more deserving player.

I'm markedly more optimistic about Peterson getting named MVP than I am about Cris Carter getting into the Hall of Fame. . .but I'm going to do my best not to really get my hopes up for either at this point. As the old saying goes, hope for the best and expect the worst. But I'm not sure if anyone should be surprised if neither Carter nor Peterson gets the honors they deserve today. That's just how these things go for Minnesota.

Hopefully, I'll be wrong on at least one of these counts.

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