The NFC all-stars got back to work Wednesday, practicing at Kapolei High School, on another cool (OK, relatively cool — this is Hawaii) morning.
The session only lasted 30 minutes, and the squad’s starting QB, Kurt Warner, and its top two wide receivers, Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin, have yet to touch down in the Aloha State.
Last year’s Rookie of the Year, Vikings RB Adrian Peterson, spent several minutes before practice signing autographs, and then after the session, as his teammates boarded the bus back to the hotel, he meticulously (the man does not scribble his John Hancock) signed jerseys, helmets and then took pictures with his fans who were on the field.
No students gathered in the bleachers to watch practice Wednesday morning, but throngs of fans crowded the barricades where the players’ buses entered school property. A line of cars half a mile long was parked in the gravel on the other side of the street from the field. A lunch truck even set up shop along the route as well.
As Peterson exited the field, the crowd sounded like a scratched Rocky DVD, shouting “Yo, Adrian!” over and over while holding up Vikings jerseys and University of Oklahoma helmets.
Eagles coach Andy Reid, who is coaching the NFC team this year, praised Peterson’s ambition and drive. When asked how much Peterson might run the ball, Reid repeated to reporters what Peterson had told him: “You can give it to me every time.”
And they might, considering that Peterson ran away with Pro Bowl MVP honors last year, rushing for 129 yards and two touchdowns.
At a Monday meeting of all Pro Bowl players, Peyton Manning, the AFC’s starting QB, recounted that while everyone else imbibed in the sun all week last year, Peterson only drank water and stretched poolside. Manning joked that he didn’t want to see that kind of behavior repeated or the AFC could come out on the losing end again and Peterson might end up with another Cadillac, the MVP’s take-home prize.
After Peterson climbed on the bus and it disappeared down the road back to the hotel, Reid picked up where Peterson left off and spent several minutes signing autographs, posing for pictures and shaking hands with fans.