"What inspired you to be the best?" he wishes he could ask the Bears great, who died in 1999. "How did he deal with success and fame? If he could do anything different, what would it be? What would he have done?"
Peterson speaks to Vikings coach Leslie Frazier about Payton. Frazier was a teammate of Payton's and has routinely said he sees striking similarities between the two, on and off the field.
His name is up there with Tom Brady and Peyton Manning in the MVP discussion, and an MVP win for Peterson would break a string of five straight given to quarterbacks. He's certainly showing that an offense can be successful while relying heavily on the running game and validating the Vikings' decision to invest heavily in him with a lucrative contract extension before last season.
"I definitely want to keep the running backs highlighted," Peterson said. "It's started to turn into more of a spread, quarterback-friendly NFL. But just keep letting them know that there are going to be running backs that can do this.
"Just give young guys the inspiration to try to be better than me. Just inspire them to get on top of their game to be better so that running backs continue to prosper in this league and have coaches and organizations respect us so we can continue to not only play the game we love, but take care of our family."
LaDainian Tomlinson, another running back with Texas roots, won the MVP award in 2006, the last time a non-quarterback has won the award.
"It would definitely be nice to do that," Peterson said. "And I feel like it will happen. I just have the confidence in myself and the guys that surround me who have played such a big part in this the whole season."
One more game to strengthen his case. One more game to reel in those records and try to extend this magical season for at least another week.
"Coming into the season after going through the rehab process, I just told myself that I wanted to lead my team to a championship and make sure that I contribute and do my part," Peterson said. "I've been doing it. I just ask God to continue to bless me."
AP Sports Writer Teresa M. Walker in Nashville, Tenn., contributed to this story.
Follow Jon Krawczynski on Twitter: http://twitter.com/APKrawczynski
Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP_NFL
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