Posted: Feb 2, 2013 9:26 PM by CBS Sports
NEW ORLEANS - Less than 14 months after suffering a brutal knee injury, Adrian Peterson took the NFL Honors stage in New Orleans to accept the 2012 NFL MVP award.
It was the second trip to the stage for the man nicknamed All Day, as he'd earlier gone up to accept the 2012 NFL Offensive Player of the Year Award. And though Peterson said all along he'd win the MVP, even he didn't seem to fully grasp that the voters had selected him.
"It's been a long year and this is more to add on to the testimony that you can accomplish anything if you put God first and continue to work hard," Peterson said after a speechless few seconds on the stage. "A year ago a lot of people were counting me out and I'm blessed to be here."
The MVP award for the last few years has been essentially reduced to most-valuable quarterback; Peterson is the first running back to win the MVP since LaDainian Tomlinson in 2006 and he did it after stating that he believed he should win after the season ended.
"I never made a guarantee," Peterson said. "But I had confidence and I knew I had a good chance of winning."
Peterson's Week 17 game didn't hurt matters: the running back rumbled for 199 yards against the Packers to clinch a playoff berth for the Vikings and ended up falling just nine yards short of Eric Dickerson's single-season rushing-yards record.
A year ago meanwhile, Peyton Manning was in Indianapolis, watching his brother win a second Super Bowl and answering questions about his future. On Saturday, he answered them definitively by winning the NFL's 2012 Comeback Player of the Year Award.
Manning received 31.5 votes and beat out Peterson, who won the Offensive Player of the Year Award.
"No NFL player wants to be eligible to win the Comeback Player of the Year," Manning said before thanking team doctors and all the people who helped him return to football.
Peterson's recovery was an example of of a medical miracle but Manning's comeback was no less stunning. The multiple MVP-award winner underwent a slew of neck surgeries and missed all of the 2011 season.
He was let go by the Colts, landed with Denver and had a monster year, leading the Broncos to an AFC West title not too long after. Manning said Saturday that he believed it was possible he'd never return to football.
"I really didn't know," Manning said when asked. "I was prepared for that."
Manning's injury was a strange one: he's been a pioneer in the game of football and was a pioneer medically by fighting through an unknown injury to return.
"This injury was really unlike any other," Manning said. "There was no bar or standard or somebody's notes to copy. We were sort of coming up with the rehab plan as we went."