Former Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, the only non-quarterback to win a NFL Most Valuable Player award during the past decade, was one of eight unanimous selections for the NFL’s Team of the 2010s, the league and the Pro Football Hall of Fame announced earlier today.
And what an easy vote these elite eight were for those of us on the Hall’s 48-member selection committee.
Tom Brady, nearing age 43 and with a new team as he heads into his third decade, was the greatest of these slam dunks. Winning three of his six Super Bowls with the Patriots, Brady became the first quarterback to make multiple teams of the decade.
Joining Brady and Peterson as unanimous selections are defensive linemen J.J. Watt and Aaron Donald, kicker Justin Tucker, offensive tackle Joe Thomas and guard Marshal Yanda.
Peterson, still active in Washington and heading into his 14th season, was a Viking for the first seven years of the decade. During that time, he posted the last four of his seven Pro Bowls, the last two of his three first-team All-Pro selections, the last two of his three rushing titles and the league MVP after carrying the Vikings to the playoffs with a 2,097-yard season in 2012.
Another former Viking to make the list was current Bears kick returner Cordarrelle Patterson. A first-round draft pick of the Vikings in 2013, Patterson never lived up to his draft status as a receiver. But he continues to excel as a kick returner, earning All-Pro first team in 2019. In his four seasons with the Vikings, Patterson earned two of his three Pro Bowls and two of his three Associated Press All-Pro nods.
Voters were asked to select first- and second-team units. Chosen for each team were two quarterbacks, four running backs, one offensive flex player, four receivers, two tight ends, four tackles, four guards, two centers, four defensive ends,four defensive tackles, six linebackers, three cornerbacks, three safeties, two defensive backs, two kickers, two punters, two kick returners, two punt returners and two head coaches.
My ballot had two other Vikings on the second team: Defensive end Everson Griffen and safety Harrison Smith. Smith was a close fourth behind the three guys who made first team: Earl Thomas, Eric Weddle and Eric Berry.
Here is the complete list of players who made the all-decade team along with any differences from my ballot:
WR – Antonio Brown, Larry Fitzgerald, Calvin Johnson, Julio Jones
TE – Rob Gronkowski, Travis Kelce
T – Jason Peters, Tyron Smith, Joe Staley, Joe Thomas
G – Jahri Evans, Logan Mankins, Zack Martin, Marshal Yanda
C – Alex Mack, Maurkice Pouncey
QB – Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers
RB – Frank Gore, Marshawn Lynch, LeSean McCoy, Adrian Peterson
Flex – Darren Sproles
CRAIG’S OFFENSE: There were only three differences: Mike Tolbert as the flex player; Mitchell Schwartz at tackle instead of Joe Staley; and DeAndre Hopkins instead of Fitzgerald at receiver. With Tolbert, I went old-school with a fullback to fill out the backfield. And Fitzgerald is going to be one of the rare first-ballot Hall of Famers at receiver. But in this case, I went with Hopkins’ three first-team All-Pros. Fitzgerald didn’t have a first-team All-Pro nod during the decade.
DE – Calais Campbell, Cameron Jordan, Julius Peppers, J.J. Watt
DT – Geno Atkins, Fletcher Cox, Aaron Donald, Ndamukong Suh
LB – Chandler Jones, Luke Kuechly, Khalil Mack, Von Miller, Bobby Wagner, Patrick Willis
CB – Patrick Peterson, Darrelle Revis, Richard Sherman
S – Eric Berry, Earl Thomas, Eric Weddle
DB – Chris Harris, Tyrann Mathieu
CRAIG’S DEFENSE: There were four differences: Cameron Wake instead of Calais Campbell at end; Gerald McCoy instead of Fletcher Cox at tackle; NaVorro Bowman instead of Patrick Willis at linebacker and Stephon Gilmore at defensive back instead of Chris Harris. Willis was the hardest choice to leave off. But he only played through 2014, earning three of his first-team All-Pros in the decade. Bowman played through 2017 and was first-team All-Pro four times.
P – Johnny Hekker, Shane Lechler
K – Stephen Gostkowski, Justin Tucker
PR – Tyreek Hill, Darren Sproles
KR – Devin Hester, Cordarrelle Patterson
Bill Belichick, Pete Carroll
CRAIG’S SPECIAL TEAMS & COACHES: No differences. Belichick wasn’t a unanimous selection, which was surprising. He also was one of nine overall selections who spent time with the Patriots during the decade. And that, obviously, is not surprising.