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Lunchbreak: The Athletic Highlights Lifelong Bond of Spielman Brothers

Rick and Chris Spielman are brothers, best friends and division rivals.

Chris was hired in December by the Detroit Lions as a Special Assistant to Chairman Sheila Ford Hamp and President & CEO Rod Wood.

That means the twice-annual contests between Minnesota and Detroit will have even more storylines since Rick has been the Vikings general manager since 2012 after initially joining the organization in 2006.

The Spielman brothers were highlighted in a recent feature by The Athletic's Dan Pompei, who chronicled their lives together, beginning with their childhood in Canton, Ohio, to their time now as executives for different NFC North teams.

Pompei emphasized their competitiveness as kids playing 1-on-1 hoops games.

If their bedroom was the place they learned trust, the basement was the place they learned courage. Area rugs covered some of the cold concrete floor. There was a couch and coffee table on one side, and on the other side, a Nerf hoop hung on the wall. No one ever tried harder in an NBA Finals game than Rick and Chris in those games with spongy foam balls. To Rick, losing to his kid brother was shameful. To Chris, beating his big brother was crossing a line of demarcation.

With their father egging them on — "Oooooh, you're not going to let your little brother do that to you, are you?" — basketball sometimes morphed into wrestling. They didn't need any encouragement, though. They were alone one time when a basketball game got out of hand. They didn't stop until Chris' head slammed against the corner of the coffee table, opening a sizeable gash. A trip to the hospital and Mom's wrath were unavoidable.

The bond between the brothers continued as they grew up and exceled as high school football stars. Rick wound up heading to Southern Illinois, and Chris became an All-American at Ohio State. And it grew as they turned into adults and made their careers — with Chris playing in the NFL as an All-Pro linebacker and Rick navigating his way in the front office realm.

The brothers also leaned on each other during tough times, especially when Chris' wife Stefanie died in November 2009 after an 11-year battle with breast cancer.

Pompei noted that Rick rarely left his brother's side in the days that followed.

Rick felt especially bad because he had not been able to spend much time with them during the ordeal.

Stefanie was waked at the Longaberger Alumni House on the Ohio State campus, right across from the Woody Hayes Athletic Facility. During more than seven hours of viewing, Rick never left his broken-hearted brother's side. Chris insisted on standing the entire time, so Rick stood the entire time. Chris didn't want anything to eat. Rick refused food. When Chris had to go to the bathroom, that's when Rick went.

"I think because he was out of town when my family was going through that, it was his way, now I'm getting emotional thinking about it, it was his way of saying, 'I was always with you,'" Chris said. "It was probably one of the top five feelings of love I've ever had in my life. And that day, I needed it the most, to be quite honest with you."

Pompei also wrote that Chris didn't sleep for two days after Minnesota lost the 2009 NFC title game in heartbreaking fashion.

In the present day, the brothers still call each other at least once a week, although football isn't always the main topic.

Instead, they talk about their families, crack jokes and simply chat as brothers … not rivals.

"He's been such a positive force in my life that I don't know if I would have got to where I am without him," Chris said. "I don't think there's a brother that could love his brother more than I do. I don't open up to a lot of people, but I'm grateful he's been in my life."

Rick's admiration is mutual: "He's my brother, my best friend and has shown me unwavering support and unconditional love, making me the husband, father and man I am today."

Pompei's full feature can be found here.

Peterson leads list as best No. 7 pick ever

The 2021 NFL Draft is just eight days away, as the seven-round spectacle begins on April 29 from Cleveland.

CBS Sports has been going through the top players drafted at each pick, beginning with No. 32 and counting down.

Jeff Kerr of CBS Sports tackled the No. 7 spot on Wednesday morning and had a familiar name in the top spot, as Kerr wrote that former Vikings running back Adrian Peterson is the best player ever drafted in that slot.

Peterson went seventh overall in 2007 after a stellar college career at Oklahoma.

Kerr wrote:

Peterson hasn't called it a career yet, but he'll wind up as one of the greatest running backs of all time. The best running back in an era where passing games dominated, Peterson has rushed for 14,820 yards and 118 touchdowns in his career. Peterson is fifth in NFL history in career rushing yards and fourth in rushing touchdowns — 449 yards behind Barry Sanders for fourth and five touchdowns behind Marcus Allen for third.

Peterson holds the NFL record for rushing yards in a game with 296, one of six 200-yard rushing games in his career (tied with O.J. Simpson for the most in league history). His eight 1,000-yard seasons are tied for sixth-most in NFL history, and Peterson's eight seasons of 10+ rushing touchdowns are tied with Emmitt Smith for second-most in league history.

Peterson is just one of eight players with 2,000 rushing yards in a season, rushing for 2,096 yards in his MVP season (2012). A four-time First-Team All-Pro and seven-time Pro Bowl selection, Peterson led the league in rushing three times, rushing yards per game four times, and rushing touchdowns twice. Peterson has the most 50-yard rushing touchdowns in a career (16) and 60-yard rushing touchdowns in a career (13) — along with the most rushing yards in an eight-game stretch (1,322).

Peterson wore Purple from 2007 to 2016 and is the Vikings all-time leader in rushing attempts (2,419), yards (11,747) and rushing touchdowns (97).