It’s been a difficult month for Minnesota Vikings star running back Dalvin Cook.

While his happy-go-lucky smile told a different story Wednesday, Cook admitted deep down he’s still trying to come to grips with the unexpected death of his father on Dec. 30, 2020. He flew home to Miami upon hearing the news and missed the season finale against the Detroit Lions.

“It’s been a tough time,” Cook said. “I always think back to how situations like this build character. It just shows who a man really is. My dad lived a great life, so I can continue to live that legacy and carry his name and do all of those things.”

The only thing Cook wants to do is make his dad proud. What better way to do that than continue to ball on the football field?

The sport connected father and son over the years and will continue to do so moving forward serving as motivation for Cook long after his father’s death.

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Perhaps that explains why Cook is already back working out after the best season of his pro career. While the 25-year-old running back finished second in the NFL with 1,557 rushing yards this season, and added 17 total touchdowns, he wants to be even better next season.

“I kind of told myself that I was going to take two or three weeks off, and I couldn’t help myself,” Cook 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.”

It’s clear Cook isn’t satisfied. He could feel himself scratching the surface before last season, and now that he’s officially burst onto the scene as a top-tier player in the league, he’s hungrier than ever. He doesn’t want to be considered among the best running backs in the league. He wants to be the best running back in the league.

“It’s something I can build from,” Cook said. “The sky’s still the limit for me. Whatever I want to accomplish, I think I can go get it.”

In that same breath, Cook made sure to heap praise on his offensive line, something he did consistently throughout last season. Though he got most of the attention on a weekly basis, Cook carried himself with a grace not always seen from of a superstar player.

“It’s not all me,” Cook said. “I’ve got to give those guys around me credit, too, going out there and blocking and doing the little things. I’m looking forward to another big year, and hopefully being in this game that’s coming up.”

Obviously the game Cook is talking about is the Super Bowl. That’s still his ultimate goal, and he’s been watching the NFL playoffs over the past month with envy.

“I like to live in the moments with those guys,” he said. “I like to do all that, and I like to visualize, ‘What did we do wrong?’ There are a couple of games we let slip. We could’ve easily been a 10-win team.”

In order to make a playoff run in the coming seasons, the Vikings are going to need Cook to be firing on all cylinders. He knows that, and he’s looking forward to the challenge.

“I’m going to turn it loose,” Cook said. “I’m going to have fun with it. It’s 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 got to go. I’m going to be ready to go. It should be a fun year for the Vikings.”