Adrian Peterson has earned a reputation for being a player who doesn’t lack for confidence when it comes to his own ability. As he prepares for the 2016 season, his goals remain as lofty as ever.
Appearing in Sports Illustrated’s Monday Morning Quarterback online feature with SI’s Peter King, Peterson continues to maintain that he will defy the odds and still has lofty aspirations in mind – both for himself and the Minnesota Vikings.
Despite coming off a season in which he won his third rushing title and ran for 1,485 yards, Peterson is looking for more – even though young running backs like Todd Gurley and Ezekiel Elliott are the younger challengers to his throne.
“Not to be cocky or anything, but I know, at 31, my end is going to be better than my beginning,” Peterson said. “One thing I know, and will remain true: These young guys will never outwork me. I put my body through the grind. Just knowing how my body remains healthy, age is not really affecting me. It’s my mindset. I don’t get into the 30-year-old running-back thing, that you’re done at 30. I am getting stronger with age. Last year was a disappointment to me, because I know I can do more. Honest, it was.”
In previous seasons, when Peterson would talk about the duration of his career in the NFL, it was often in terms of defying the running back wall at age 30 and playing all the way to the age of 40.
Although he made good on his pledge to be the NFL’s best running back after the age of 30, which happened last year when he crossed that age milestone, he isn’t still talking about playing another decade. Even Peterson knows he’s mortal and that time will eventually catch up to him because time is undefeated in the NFL.
“I can, but will I?” Peterson said about his prior claim of playing until age 40. “Honestly, I don’t think I will. Mentally, I don’t know. Once I get to 38, I don’t think I’ll have the same love of the game. Sometimes I get tired of training camp. I think I can endure five more (training camps), but after that, I don’t know.”
Peterson still has goals that are individual in nature. He came within eight yards of breaking Eric Dickerson’s single-season rushing record and still needs 6,680 yards to achieve his goal of breaking Emmitt Smith’s all-time career rushing yardage total.
He still strives to put his name on the top of both lists, but feels the success of the team will supersede any individual achievements. If one comes, so will the recognition of greatness – both individual and from the team standpoint.
“I don’t spend too much time thinking about it,” Peterson. “But, it’s a seed planted in my brain and it’s sticking there. Everything in me is championship, championship and then breaking records. It’s a part of me. I am pushing myself to the max to win a Super Bowl, and then to break Emmitt’s record and Eric Dickerson’s single-season rushing record. It is my everyday life, what I think of every day. Mostly it’s that Super Bowl. Then the whole world will remember you.”
For those who think Peterson is transferring his tough talk from the individual to the team perspective, if he is, he’s doing a pretty solid job. He effectively put Peter King and everybody else in the world of the NFL on notice that if they overlook the Vikings, they could be surprised because they have the horses to get the job done this season.
“We are going to have a good chance to win it this year—win everything,” Peterson said. “Sit back and watch. Sit back and watch. You can be like, ‘I thought you guys were at least a couple of years away.’ Nope. You sit back and watch, this year.”