I had a list of the nine biggest turkeys in the NFL this season, but I opted instead to be super positive heading into the holiday. Below you'll find the nine things I'm thankful for in the NFL this year.
1) Adrian Peterson
As a sports fan, there's nothing quite like watching a supreme talent achieve greatness, knowing you're witnessing something special.
I've been mesmerized by what Peterson has accomplished with the Minnesota Vikings this year. For him to come back after major knee surgery and look "better than ever," as Vikings coach Leslie Frazier put it on SiriusXM NFL Radio, is just incredible.
Peterson was supposed to be on a snap count. He was supposed to work his way back into shape. Instead, he's the best runner in the NFL, carrying the Vikings to a surprising 6-4 record. He's currently a top candidate for a slew of awards, including MVP, Offensive Player of the Year and Comeback Player of the Year.
2) Peyton Manning
As great as last season was, something was missing. Manning's absence from the game loomed large. The iron man, one of the greatest quarterbacks in league history, didn't take a snap.
Manning worked out in the offseason, and a classic free-agent chase began, with the Denver Broncos winning the sweepstakes. But there were still skeptics, myself included, who wanted to see Manning throw, and take a hit, and round into shape.
As the injury to Baltimore Ravens veteran Ray Lewis shows, you never know when a legendary career might be interrupted or cut short, making Manning's comeback all the more special.
3) Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III
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The NFL conversation in 2012 has been dominated by the first two picks taken in April's draft, and the neophyte quarterbacks haven't disappointed. Stunningly, they've outpaced expectations, and that says something.
I can't wait to watch them develop into megastars together.
4) Andy Reid
5) "The Legion of Boom"
I cannot get enough of the Seattle Seahawks' defensive backs. They are tough, nasty and aggressive playmakers.
When I told Brandon Browner on SiriusXM Blitz how I much I loved his unit's approach, he replied, "Thanks for noticing, and spread the word." How can you not love these guys?
6) Dick LeBeau
The NFL's oldest defensive coordinator is still the best in the business. I have as much appreciation for LeBeau, who has gotten the Pittsburgh Steelers' injury-riddled defense to overachieve, as I do for Peterson and Manning. I hope LeBeau never retires.
7) Bob McNair
Now McNair is being rewarded with the best team in the AFC.
The owner does amazing charitable work in the Houston community. He also brought football back to the area. It would be special to see him win a title.
8) Daryl Washington
I'm a sucker for players who don't get picked in the first round, out-perform their contracts and then get smartly rewarded with big money.
That has all rightly happened to the Arizona Cardinals' do-it-all linebacker, one of the best defensive players in the NFL. If Washington were on a better team, we'd be talking about him as a candidate to be named Defensive Player of the Year.
9) Thanksgiving football in Dallas and Detroit
Interleague play. Conference realignment. My head is spinning.
These teams bring history and tradition into our homes. I look forward to watching them play on Thanksgiving every year.