Following an 11-5 season, an NFC North Division Championship and a return to the playoffs three members of the Minnesota Vikings made Monday Morning Quarterback's list of the most influential people in the NFL.
Running back Adrian Peterson was 31st, head coach Mike Zimmer 65th and kicker Blair Walsh was 80th. It shows the Vikings are beginning to return to prominence in the NFL after only Peterson (11th) made the preseason list.
The list, which was put together by MMQB writer Gary Gramling, compiles some of the top stories from the NFL season. Topping this year's list were Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning and Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, but being on it doesn't necessarily indicate good things – as in the case of Cleveland Browns' quarterback Johnny Manziel, who hit rock bottom with a thud, following repeated run-ins with police.
So here is what Gramling had to say about the Vikings.
No. 31 Adrian Peterson
"At age 30 and coming off a full-year layoff (after pleading no contest to a misdemeanor charge of recklessly assaulting his 4-year-old son), there was uncertainty surrounding Peterson. He responded with his third career rushing title, helping the Vikings to their first NFC title in six years."
No. 65 Mike Zimmer
"It took too long for someone to hire Zimmer as a head coach. Now he's showing why he deserved the job. In his second season, he took the Vikings to an NFC North title, its first since 2009."
N0. 80 Blair Walsh
"It was a stunning miss on a freezing day. After drilling kicks from 22, 43 and 47 yards in subzero temperatures, the reliable Walsh pulled a 27-yarder wide left in the final seconds of a 10-9 wild-card loss to Seattle. Walsh will have an offseason to think about the kick. But hopefully he moves past it and remembers the important things: that he is handsome, and puppies are cute."
Gramling also highlighted how Walsh attempted to overcome the miss, when he visited a classroom full of first-graders who sent him some encouraging words after the playoff loss.