Matt Asiata's name won't be found near the top of any National Football League's rushing statistical categories. Before Sunday, his name wasn't even very recognizable to NFL fans, much less fans of the Minnesota Vikings.
Asiata, a third-string running back for the Vikings, filled in valiantly for injured running backs Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart in Minnesota's 48-30 win over the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday at the Metrodome. He carried the ball 30 times for a pedestrian 51 yards, but his three touchdowns helped the Vikings gain and maintain control of the game.
The story is inspirational the way it is, but it becomes even more uplifting when you realize Asiata was playing with a heavy heart, and has been ever since his father died in a bus accident Oct. 28.
Asiata's one-minute postgame interview with Greg Coleman on KFAN-FM 100.3 displays just how emotional the day was for him (The interview starts at the 6:20 mark of the player below).
"I wish my dad was here," an emotional Asiata said during the interview. "Sorry."
"You don't have to be sorry about that, brother. You don't have to be sorry at all," Coleman responded. "One touchdown for each one of your kids. I know that your dad was watching and would be very proud, what do you think that he would have to say to you today?"
"Just give me a big hug and just say, 'I love you. I love you son.' That's it," Asiata responded. "I'm glad my mom made it out... and my sister and my brother. I give it all to my dad."
Asiata's story gained a national audience on Monday when he joined NBC's Pro Football Live with Mike Florio.
His incredible performance was more than inspirational. It was also record-tying. According to Sports Illustrated, Asiata became the first player in the NFL to score three rushing touchdowns in his first career start since former Vikings quarterback Daunte Culpepper did so in 2000.