Yes, folks, you read that correctly. . .seven members of the Beloved Purple will be making the trek to Honolulu this February. Either that, or they'll be looking for lame excuses to get out of a free trip to Hawai'i for reasons that would absolutely boggle the mind. Then again, I don't remember many Vikings skipping the Pro Bowl in the past, so I'm not sure why they'd start now.
Of the seven Vikings voted into the game, six of them will be starting. On the offensive side, the game will start off with an all-Viking backfield, as we'll have Tony Richardson lining up to lead block for 2007 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Adrian Peterson. They'll also see a familiar site in front of them as Steve Hutchinson, the best left guard in the game, will be lined up as a starter at guard. Center Matt Birk was also named to the team, but he's the reserve center. Starting for the NFC at the pivot will be Andre Gurode of the Dallas Cowboys.
The Vikings will also put three starters on the defensive side of the football. In what should come as a surprise to absolutely nobody, both halves of the law firm of Williams & Williams will start at the defensive tackle slots for the NFC. They're the best DT tandem in the league, so it's only right that they represent the conference at that position. The other Vikings' starter. . .and one that certainly came as a surprise to yours truly. . .is Darren Sharper capturing the starting spot at strong safety. While the greatest safety in Green Bay Packer history isn't having his best Vikings' season, apparently he's still getting the job done in the eyes of his peers. In the end, isn't that what really matters?
Overall, the seven players the Vikings are sending to Hawai'i represents the second-largest contingent in the NFC (the Cowboys are sending 11) and third-largest in the NFL (behind Dallas and New England, who's sending 8). In his press conference today, Brad Childress said that four other Vikings had been named as alternates. Those four are
-LB Heath Farwell (presumably as a special teamer)
-MLB E.J. Henderson
-K Ryan Longwell
-LT Bryant McKinnie
So, congratulations to Tony Richardson, Adrian Peterson, Steve Hutchinson, Matt Birk, Kevin Williams, Pat Williams, and Darren Sharper on this accomplishment. They've done a fine job of representing the Beloved Purple thus far this season, and I'm sure they'll do the same in Honolulu.
Coming up in a bit, the weekly breakdown of the playoff picture and what we're hoping for this week. Stay tuned!