Coming off of a fantastic first season in which he captured the 2010 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award, former Florida Gators now Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin hopes to build on his team’s fortunes and lead the Vikings to a Super Bowl, something they were unable to attain last season. OGGOA had an opportunity to speak with Harvin over the weekend. We picked his brain about a number of subjects before he fulfilled his responsibilities for Palm Beach Autographs [site sponsor] including his rookie season, the speed of the NFL, his chronic migraine problems and how he is already being remembered in Florida football history.
ADAM SILVERSTEIN: With how you played last year, winning Rookie of the Year and compiling some fantastic statistics in the receiving and return games, do you feel like you proved a lot of people wrong who were criticizing you going into the 2009 NFL Draft?
PERCY HARVIN: “I didn’t go into it trying to prove anybody wrong. I knew the capabilities I had. So I just went out there and wanted to contribute to my team. First of all, in the special teams area. As Brett [Favre] got there, [he] taught me the game a little faster than I probably would have learned it with the other quarterbacks. He speeded up my process a whole lot. A lot of that just goes to him, learning from Sidney [Rice], Bernard Berrian and the other receivers.”
Read the rest of our interview with Percy Harvin…after the break!
AS: Obviously one of your best athletic traits is your speed. Did you find it tough to transition that to the NFL – perhaps now that some guys can come close to catching up with you? How does it compare to what you faced in the SEC?
PH: “Oh, it’s definitely faster. I’d say that’s probably the biggest adjustment going to the next level – the speed part of it. If you know the game, you can play the game 100 MPH, so I just went in knowing my assignment so when I went out to the field I could play 100 percent and not worry about messing up.”
AS: Are you still experiencing a lot of migraine headaches? Are they getting any better or have doctors come up with any new treatments for you?
PH: “It’s a work in progress. I had a few of them still over the break. It’s just something I’ll either have to grow out of or figure out something. I’ve been to numerous doctors and it’s a work in progress. It’s different things. It can be the weather, the pollen. It can be a lot of things that can trigger them. And that’s what we’re trying to figure out now – certain things to help me.”
AS: Growing up, I’m sure people always compared you to other players. What do you think about the fact that, when a young player has similar abilities to you, they now tell him, ‘Hey, you can be the next Percy Harvin.’ How does that make you feel?
PH: “It’s a great compliment. I’m tremendously honored by that. I remember coming in, it was Reggie Bush. And I kept going into Florida saying, ‘I don’t want to be Reggie Bush – I want to be my own name.’ So to actually leave and now to hear people say the ‘Percy Harvin position’ – it’s a tremendous honor and I’m really blessed.”
Other topics discussed:
On the Vikings offensive system and schemes: “It was a joy to play for. I was used to playing with Florida and a lot of the other playmakers out there, so you don’t feel a lot of pressure on you. You got a Hall of Fame quarterback so he pretty much does the work for us, we do the easy part.”
On Favre coming back to the NFL: “I think so. But at the same time, you never know. He’s played a lot of years. I just don’t know how his body feels – only he knows that. As of right now, I’d say 50/50.”
On playing in the backfield at some point next season: “We talked about it. [It is] just another opportunity to get the ball in my hands quicker. Of course, I love the idea. But, like I said, we’ll see when we get to training camp and some of the other camps to see how it goes. It’s just [a way to get] another playmaker on the field. We hope they can get me and Adrian Peterson both in the backfield at the same time. Kind of cause mismatches on the defensive side of the ball. Hopefully it will work out for us. I think it can be a powerful weapon for us.”
On when he first heard about Favre signing: “Well, I knew my job would be a whole lot easier. We all felt Brett coming in – he knew the system, he knows the game better than some of the coaches did. When he came in, we knew our offense was going to run a lot smoother and we were going to have a lot more opportunities being that he’s known for gun slinging.”
On passing the New Orleans Saints this year: “[We have to] not turn the ball over. That [NFC Championship] was a killer. They won the game, but we didn’t feel like they beat us. We beat ourselves up. We had numerous fumbles – I fumbled the ball, AP fumbled the ball, Bernard fumbled the ball. We just got to take care of the ball and we’ll be fine.”
On Rice’s breakout season: “Just having Brett, learning the game, it was his third year – another season to learn the game. We all complimented each other as far as the running game, passing game. I think we just had a nice balance. He exploded this year, so hopefully he has an even better year. He’s another year older, so hopefully he can match that year with this one.”
On if Urban Meyer can balance coaching with his life: “He’ll be fine. I think – just for him – he worries too much. He goes on vacation and he’s still texting players. We got to be like, ‘Coach, everything’s good.’ All the coaches be texting him, telling him just to relax and everything’s going good. He’s one of those coaches that loves the players, he wants to get involved in your life. He just gets too involved to the point where he can’t even relax with his own family. I don’t think he will [back off]. I talk to him every day.”
On if he has been talking to Favre: “Me and him text two-to-three times a week, every couple of weeks. We text. I don’t ask ‘that question’ – I know he gets that a lot. We just talk about random stuff. Brett, he’s real goofy, so we just clown maybe laughing at some TV show or something. He’s a great person to be around. It was a blessing that I was able to play with him. We don’t even talk about football. I know all the stuff he goes through and all the pressure, so I don’t want to be one of those guys who texts him and then asks the question and then he might feel like I’m trying to pressure him. He’ll make the decision that’s best for him.”
On quarterback Tim Tebow as a rookie: “I really don’t know the Denver team, the roster he has. But I know he’s a hard worker. He’s going to go in there and give that program everything he’s got. Whether he’ll play or not this year? I don’t know – I don’t know what the circumstances are. But I do know he’s going to give 110 percent at whatever he does. It’s just hard to tell the success he may or may not have. All I know is he’s one of the best players I’ve ever played [with]. One of the best college players ever. He’ll definitely have the opportunity, and I’m wishing the best for him and I’m rooting for him.”
On winning Rookie of the Year: “It was a tremendous honor. To not only know the team’s success we had but to know that people recognized the hard work and the playmaking that brought to the team. But I told everyone the same thing: I was happy with the award, it was a tremendous accomplishment, but we didn’t make it to the championship so the season was a failure. It was a good accomplishment but we still need to get better.”
On how he can take his game to the next level building off last year: “Everybody got step their game up. What we did last year doesn’t count anymore. Just have to live in the present and, whatever we do this year will be based on this year.”
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