MINNEAPOLIS — Imagine young Robert Griffin III running a form of the tricky read-option offense, with a still-in-his-prime Adrian Peterson behind him for handoffs.
Even with a reconstructed knee on each of their blazing-fast bodies, that’d be a dangerous combination for opposing defenses to handle for years to come. Well, if a few plays went the other way on that fateful Christmas Eve day, these stars could have been teammates.
The story is well-known by now but worth retelling with Griffin’s Washington Redskins visiting Peterson’s Minnesota Vikings tonight.
Two years ago, in the second-to-last game of the season, Peterson tore ligaments in his left knee. Toby Gerhart and backup quarterback Joe Webb rallied the Vikings to victory that ensured their record was better than Indianapolis or St. Louis.
The Colts took Andrew Luck, the Rams traded the second slot for three first-rounders and a second-round selection, and the Redskins jumped up to nab Griffin. The Vikings stuck with Christian Ponder, the quarterback they drafted in 2011 with the 12th overall pick.
Griffin said this week he and Peterson spoke prior to his draft about the tantalizing possibility of them playing together.
“But I wasn’t a basketball player, and this wasn’t free agency. It’s not like I had a choice. We didn’t have any control over that,” Griffin said. “It would have been awesome, but I feel blessed to be in the situation that I am.”
The Vikings wound up trading down from third to fourth to select left tackle Matt Kalil and collect additional picks from the Cleveland Browns. The unknown is whether the Vikings, had they lost one more game that year, would have done the same as the Rams to accumulate more picks. Or stayed put to get Griffin and relegate Ponder to backup status after starting only 10 games as a rookie.