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Vikings lost LaDainian Tomlinson to Jets by not offering 'baby basket' bonus

LaDainian Tomlinson + Adrian Peterson: The two-headed backfield that could have been.

LaDainian Tomlinson + Adrian Peterson: The two-headed backfield that could have been. The Star Tribune

In 2010, one year removed from Brett Favre's magical arrival in Minnesota, the Vikings fell to 6-10, dogged by Favre's disintegrating body and an aging roster. 

Running the football was no issue, however, as in-his-prime Adrian Peterson, then 25, slashed and burned his way to 1,298 yards and 12 touchdowns. So imagine if young AP had been teamed with free-agent LaDainian Tomlinson during the off season -- could that two-headed monster of a backfield prolonged Favre's career enough to make good on 2009's unfinished business? 

Apparently that scenario could have been explored. After his release from the San Diego Chargers, Tomlinson seriously eyed the Vikes, the five-time Pro Bowler recently explained via NFL Network

"For me, it came down to the Jets and the Vikings," Tomlinson says. "In fact, the Vikings were offering more money. They had more money on the table. And I remember I went to Minnesota first, I was supposed to go right to the Jets afterwards, and it was hard to get out of the building for the Vikings. They did not want to let me out of the building!"

How'd the Vikings whiff on acquiring the 61st best player in the NFL? By not sufficiently wooing Tomlinson's pregnant wife!

"But at the end of the day, the Jets had a real nice baby basket that they prepared," Tomlinson explains. "My wife was pregnant at the time and of course you know the wife makes the decisions. She saw that basket and she was like, ‘Aww we’re going to the Jets. Look, they care about the baby,’ and it was over [after that]."

Hmm. More cash would afford one the opportunity to buy many baby items, but we suppose it's the thought that counts. 

As a Jet, Tomlinson summoned one more solid season, notching 1,282 total yards and six touchdowns at age 31. Splitting carries with youngster Shonn Greene, the ol' vet helped the 11-5 Jets soar into the AFC Championship Game, despite the quarterbacking of Mark Sanchez. 

The Vikings, for their part, fired Brad Childress mid-season and left Favre's frozen corpse plastered to the TCF Bank Stadium turf in a Week 15 loss to the Chicago Bears. The rival Green Bay Packers would win the Super Bowl that year.

The Vikes reloaded the following season with Leslie Frazier as head coach and bounce-passing Donovan McNabb at quarterback. Tomlinson retired after an unremarkable 2011 encore with the Jets; presumably, his baby remained pampered. Tomlinson was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame last year. 

Let's speculate on what could have been while watching these LT highlights: