Chris Tomasson / St. Paul Pioneer Press
MINNEAPOLIS — The Vikings had five defensive players in the Pro Bowl last month, and another sitting in the stands. When nose tackle Linval Joseph was named Jan. 13 as a replacement for the Jan. 29 game in Orlando, Fla., one of the first things he did was invite teammate Danielle Hunter to be one of his guests. So Hunter, a second-year defensive end who led the Vikings in 2016 with 12½ sacks, watched with members of Joseph's family. He came away determined to play in the game next year.
HOUSTON — Houston handed the Super Bowl off to Minnesota on Monday, and Marilyn Carlson Nelson had a handoff of her own. As New England quarterback Tom Brady was leaving his Super Bowl MVP news conference, Nelson, a co-chairman of the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee, gave him a hat reading "Bold North," a theme for the big game Feb. 4, 2018 at U.S. Bank Stadium.
HOUSTON — Vikings president and co-owner Mark Wilf said some "tough analysis" must be done about running back Adrian Peterson returning to the team next season. Peterson is under contract for 2017 for $18 million, but there's no chance he will play for that amount. He either will sign a renegotiated deal with Minnesota or become a free agent for the first time since entering the NFL in 2007.
HOUSTON — Vikings president and co-owner Mark Wilf has a mission for Super Bowl LII in Minnesota. "We're making sure this is the best Super Bowl ever,'' Wilf told the Pioneer Press on Thursday night. Wilf was on hand at the Minnesota Party, an event during Super Bowl LI week in Houston. The Twin Cities, which will play host to next year's big game on Feb. 4, 2018 at U.S. Bank Stadium, will officially be put on the clock next Monday by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
HOUSTON — When the Atlanta Falcons' charter flight touched down in Houston on Sunday for Super Bowl 51, Ra'Shede Hageman and De'Vondre Campbell didn't need words to let each other know how they were feeling. Hageman, a defensive tackle, and Campbell, a linebacker, were teammates at the University of Minnesota in 2013. Hageman was drafted by the Falcons in 2014, and Campbell joined him on the team two years later. Now, they're getting ready to face New England in Sunday's big game at NRG Stadium.
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn.—Mike Zimmer made sure there won't be a Vikings quarterback controversy anytime soon. In his season-ending news conference Tuesday, the head coach not surprisingly declared Sam Bradford his starter. Acquired from Philadelphia after Teddy Bridgewater suffered a season-ending knee injury in the final preseason practice, Bradford set an NFL record with a completion percentage of 71.6.
MINNEAPOLIS — The Vikings at least closed out a season that was a big disappointment with a big win. Minnesota defeated Chicago 38-10 on Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium to finish 8-8 and avoid a fifth losing season this decade. The game was disrupted early in the second quarter when two individuals unfurled a protest banner from a large beam attached to the stadium roof that read "U.S. Bank Divest #NoDAPL." That was in reference to the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline.
MINNEAPOLIS — At the end of the day on Oct. 9, the Vikings were the NFL's only remaining undefeated team. Minnesota, armed with a dominant defense, overwhelmed Houston 31-13 that afternoon and was riding high with a 5-0 record heading into a bye week. Looking back, though, it is evident that danger was on the horizon.
MINNEAPOLIS — Sunday could mark the end of an era. For a decade, the Vikings have had running back Adrian Peterson, linebacker Chad Greenway and defensive end Brian Robison as key contributors. It's possible none will remain with the team following the season finale against Chicago at U.S. Bank Stadium.
MINNEAPOLIS — Rookies stepped up big time for the Vikings last season. Stefon Diggs led the team in receiving and Eric Kendricks in tackles. Danielle Hunter was second in sacks. This year's rookie class has spent the bulk of the season on the bench. One big difference between Minnesota's NFC North title team in 2015 and this year's 7-8 squad has been the production of rookies.