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Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson earns 2012 NFL Most Valuable Player Award

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NEW ORLEANS — Adrian Peterson called it a blessing in disguise.

Strange way to describe career-threatening major knee surgery.

The Minnesota Vikings’ star came back better than ever, just missing Eric Dickerson’s longstanding rushing record and closing out the season with two of the top NFL awards from The Associated Press: Most Valuable Player and Offensive Player of the Year.

As sort of an added bonus, he beat Peyton Manning for both of them Saturday night.

“My career could have easily been over, just like that,” the sensational running back said. “Oh man. The things I’ve been through throughout my lifetime has made me mentally tough.

“ I’m kind of speechless. This is amazing, ” he said in accepting his awards, along with five others at the “2nd Annual NFL Honors” show on CBS saluting the NFL’s best players, performances and plays from the 2012 season. The awards are based on balloting from a nationwide panel of 50 media members who regularly cover the NFL.

Manning’s own sensational recovery, from four neck surgeries, earned him Comeback Player honors.

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