There are times when players are game-time decisions with injuries or illness or various other problems that prevent them from playing.
Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson had a dilemma that for, a short period of time, had head coach Mike Zimmer wondering and worrying if his star running back was going to be at Sunday’s 31-14 win over the San Diego Chargers.
Peterson was questionable Sunday morning, not because of an injury, but because his wife was giving birth to their son – Axyl Eugene Peterson.
For a while, it was touch and go as to whether Peterson would make it to TCF Bank Stadium in time because the baby wasn’t coming as early as had been hoped. Not only did Peterson make to the stadium in time for the game, he dominated, rushing 20 times for 126 yards and two touchdowns, making for a day that even he has as a hard time wrapping his head around.
“My son was born early this morning, so that right there kind of put things in perspective,” Peterson said. “It was just like, ‘Wow, this is what life is really about.’ So coming in here today, having the support from my teammates and going out there having fun, there was only one way to end this today and a victory was it.”
The birth also caused some anxious moments for Zimmer. About 8:30 a.m., Peterson contacted Zimmer saying he didn’t know when he would be leaving the hospital. For a game plan designed around a player as much as the Vikings plan their offense around Peterson, Zimmer didn’t want to be left hanging.
“He called me earlier this morning,” Zimmer said. “Then I basically said, ‘Are you not going to be at the game?’ And he said, ‘I can’t say that.’ And I said, ‘I need to know by a certain time.’ Then he texted me (about 9:45) and said ‘I’ll be there.’”
Peterson was able to share the moment with his wife at the birth of his son and then pick up the pace to get to the stadium, where his teammates were already warming up. He had the glow that proud parents all have and was happy to give out the details of his hectic morning.
“He was born early around the nine o’clock hour,” Peterson said. “7 pounds, 3 ounces, and 22 inches. The funny thing, he looks just like (my son) Adrian when he was born. I knew that I had to get here and get ready for the game. I was able to coordinate things and it worked out. I got in here, I was able to get dressed, warmed up and played.”
Peterson went on to have arguably his most explosive game of the season despite the truncated warm-up period. It was something he has been building up to and his teammates have been taking notice.
“He looked as strong in practice this week as I’ve seen him in a long time,” offensive tackle Matt Kalil said. “He looked fast, strong and doing everything with the authority that we’ve been used to see him do things. We knew we planned to lean on him and he backed up his strong week with a really strong game.”
It was a day in which Peterson was able to experience the miracle of birth and then go to work and his lead team to victory. It took him a long time to say officially that he was back at 100 percent following his ACL surgery. It took less time for him to proclaim himself back to being his old self.
If the last couple of games are any indication, Vikings opponents need to be concerned. Very concerned. Peterson is back and Big Daddy is as a strong as ever and ready for more.
“My legs felt lighter today,” Peterson said “The preparation throughout the week helped with that, but I felt good. The body felt good. My mind was in a great place, and yeah, I think I’m back.”