PRO BOWL 2008
DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Minnesota rookie Adrian Peterson, who owns the single-game rushing mark of 296 yards, ran through some drills yesterday.
Rookie Peterson enjoying the ride
If there was any doubt that Adrian Peterson had gotten over the 2007 Fiesta Bowl, consider the matter closed.
The Minnesota Vikings' star rookie running back watched Hawaii play in the Sugar Bowl, a demoralizing 41-10 defeat to the Georgia Bulldogs. Perhaps because of the one-sided nature of the game, he didn't feel any flashbacks of what the Warriors' fellow BCS-busting Western Athletic Conference team, Boise State, pulled off against his Oklahoma Sooners in the Fiesta the year before. It's behind him, but he still respected what Hawaii accomplished in trying to match the effort.
"You know, football's football," said Peterson, who qualified for the Pro Bowl in his rookie season after a stellar campaign with the Minnesota Vikings. "(Hawaii) had a great team. They were one game away from (taking) that championship, so that'll tell you the type of team they had."
He briefly reflected on the 43-42 overtime loss to the Broncos, his final collegiate game, which ended in a successful flurry of trick plays by the WAC champion.
"It's unfortunate we weren't able to execute all the plays on defense and offense, weren't able to come through with big plays," Peterson said. "(Boise) was able to come up with a big win."
Since then, he's shattered team and NFL records, most notably the single-game rushing record, which he now owns at 296 against San Diego. He posted the top two NFL rushing totals in 2007 and became the seventh Vikings player to rush for 1,000 yards in a season. He seemed truly humbled to be selected for Sunday's exhibition at Aloha Stadium, and was one of only a few players to walk over to a throng of fans at the Kapolei High School gate to sign memorabilia.
"It means so much. It's special to be a part of this, to be around all the guys, some of the greatest players in the NFL," Peterson said. "To get to experience this in your first year is what you dream about."
Two other NFC rookies, Dallas kicker Nick Folk and San Francisco linebacker Patrick Willis, also qualified for the Pro Bowl. Cleveland tackle Joe Thomas was the only AFC rookie selected.
Thomas was in Hawaii with the No. 24 Wisconsin Badgers in 2005, and contributed to the 41-24 spanking of the Warriors.
In his return, he no longer feels like a rookie after the rigors of a 10-6 season with the Browns. Plus, there are no more initiation rituals at the hands of team veterans.
"Yeah, I think everybody's out here just trying to have a good time and enjoy themselves," Thomas said with a grin. "There's not really much of the rookie hazing like there was in training camp. Just trying to have a good time and go out and play some football and let people use their natural ability."
Folk stood on the sideline for most of yesterday's casual practice. He is one of 13 Cowboys in Hawaii, while the Super Bowl champion New York Giants have just one representative.
"I'm a little blown away by the talent level," said Folk, who was perfect in all 53 of his extra-point attempts and went 26-for-31 on field goals during the season. "But I have lots of teammates here, so it's a great time being around these guys."
Willis, in a hurry to get aboard the team bus back to the Ihilani Resort, called being selected "a blessing and an honor."