EAGAN, Minn. – Dalvin Cook caught up virtually with Twin Cities media members on Wednesday and provided personal and professional updates following the Vikings 2020 season.
Due to the unexpected passing of Cook's father, James Cook, the running back missed Minnesota's Week 17 contest at Detroit as well as his postseason media availability.
Cook acknowledged that it's been difficult grieving the loss of his dad, but through it all he's been grateful for the closeness and support of family in his hometown of Miami.
"I always think back to how things are supposed to be and how situations like this build character. It just shows who a man really is," Cook said. "My dad lived a great life, so I can continue to live that legacy and carry his name and do all of those things and continue to work hard. Things have been tough, but it gets better. That's why I've got my family and everybody that's around me, helping me get through the tough time."
View the best running back photos of the 2020 season from Vikings photographers.
It seemed only fitting that on an afternoon in which Cook set aside time for reporters, he was awarded the 2020 Korey Stringer Media Good Guy Award. Voted on by the Twin Cities chapter of the Pro Football Writers of America, the honor was established in 2001 in memory of Stringer, a former first-round pick who tragically passed away Aug. 1 of that year.
Cook expressed gratitude for the recognition that can be added to a string of on-field accolades.
"That means a lot. Just shows the character and just who I am, really, and that's what I try to express with you guys that don't spend as much time with us," he said. "I appreciate all of you that voted for me for this award, and it just means a lot to me because getting up there in front of you guys is like, you can be one way, then you can be another way, but I just try to be me, and that's just who I am.
"I'm just happy to have this award. You guys can see it, here it is," Cook added, displaying the trophy for a moment during the video call. "I appreciate it. It's going to be with me for a while."
Here are four other topics Cook covered:
Rest and relaxation?
It's fair to say that Cook took a beating throughout the 2020 season, during which he racked up 312 carries for 1,557 yards and 16 touchdowns over 14 games.
Although Cook – who was on the field for 62 percent of Minnesota's offensive snaps last season – planned to take it easy, it's nearly impossible for him to take a complete break.
"Yeah, I kind of told myself that I was going to take two or three weeks off, and I couldn't help myself," he said. "I've been in the gym every now and then. I'm sitting down next week and getting a plan with my trainer of what I want to attack this offseason, what I want to get better at and those things, but coming out of this season, it was one of my healthier years, and at the end of the year, my body is clean.
"I can just build on what I did last year and not have to have any setbacks, so I was blessed enough to come out clean and just try to get better at every aspect of my game," he added.
Bring on the workload
Despite the heavy responsibility he's given in the Vikings offense, Cook doesn't feel overworked; rather, he welcomes the idea of having just as many (or more) carries next season.
The number of touches isn't something he pays attention to once he gets into a game-day groove.
"Coming out of that type of year, you build your body up extra hard, you hit the weight room a little harder, and you just do things a little harder. I think the injuries or whatever, that comes with the game. I'm going to turn it loose, and I'm going to have fun with it," Cook said. "Next year is going to be an opportunity for me to explode again, and I'm going to take full advantage of the opportunity by working my tail off this offseason so I can be ready for … however many games I've gotta go. I'm going to be ready to go, and it should be a fun year for the Vikings."
Reaction to All-Pro snub
To the surprise of many across the league, Cook wasn't named All-Pro by The Associated Press following an outstanding season.
He was asked about the snub and offered his thoughts:
"Just who I am, I'm not really big on things like that, but when you go to look at the facts of the situation, everything's there to be proven. So I don't know how I didn't make the list," Cook said. "You know, the motivational part, you put it in your back pocket or in your mind or wherever you need to put it to be a reminder for you to go be great, for you to work hard that day, and the next day.
"That's what you do, and that's what I do," he continued. "I just carry it with me, and those last reps when I'm tired, you push through for moments like that."
Kudos for Kubiak
Cook had nothing but praise for former Vikings Offensive Coordinator Gary Kubiak, who last week announced his retirement from the NFL.
After two seasons working with Kubiak, Cook said he brought "a lot of realness" to the table.
"He just always shot us straight, and that's what I love in a coach. He was just one of those coaches that you're going to remember forever," Cook said.
He added that memories over a two-year period "felt more like five years" because of the connection the player and coach had.
"Coach Kub's just one of those [coaches], he spit so much knowledge out. I was fortunate enough to have him as a coach," Cook said. "To see him go, it's tough, man, because I feel like he would still spit more knowledge out, but you know how that goes. We're going to miss him, but for the up-and-coming OC, whoever it is, I'm just looking to have a great year with him, this group. It should be fun; we're going to have a great team this year."