There were some whispers last summer when Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson abruptly ended his offseason holdout that part of the reason was that he was ranked No. 62 on NFL Network’s Top 100 Players of 2015.
Peterson was out to prove people wrong.
He did just that, vaulting from No. 62 to No. 5 on the list and reclaiming his spot as the No. 1 running back on the list that is voted on by current players.
When asked to assess Peterson’s contribution to the game and his dominance, there were recurring themes – his toughness, his big-play ability, his elusiveness, his ability to make something out of nothing.
In all, nine non-Vikings who don’t see him every week gave testimony to why Peterson is so dominant. They ranged from defensive players to offensive peers and all of them had nothing but glowing things to say about Peterson.
Here’s what they said about No. 28.
Mike Daniels, defensive tackle, Green Bay Packers – “He runs angry. I love that about him. If you do anything angry in this game, it’s going to help you out quite a bit.”
Brandon Marshall, linebacker, Denver Broncos: “I like to refer to Adrian Peterson as an animal. The guy is just relentless. He doesn’t stop. His legs are always moving and he breaks tackles. The guy, he runs angry.”
Latavius Murray, running back, Oakland Raiders: “Defenders who have played against him, they say it hurts when he runs. You’ve got to respect that and admire that.”
Tyrann Mathieu, safety, Arizona Cardinals – “When we played them, the first drive I had to make like four solo tackles on him. My shoulder is kind of still banged up from it. Tough, man, he’s just tough.”
Justin Forsett, running back, Baltimore Ravens – “I just love that he’s a big guy that can make guys miss. Even if it’s in a small little space, he can make guys miss, whether he’s going to go through you or around you. It’s a combination of both.
Michael Brockers, defensive tackle, Los Angeles Rams – “The way he finds holes or he makes them happen the way he jump cuts this way, that way, then he finds a hole and breaks through, the guy is amazing. You can’t pick and choose a gap on him because he plays a game with you a little bit. On one side of the ball then he says, ‘OK, I’m going to be over here, then I’m over there.’ OK, now I’m out of my gap and now this guy’s on the 10-yard line. The way he finds holes is the best thing he does.”
James Laurinaitis, linebacker, New Orleans Saints – “He was playing Denver and Denver was doing a phenomenal job stopping him, stopping him. One short yardage play – boom! To the house. It’s just that quick he can change a game. He’s not slowing down at all. I don’t think he’s ready to pass the torch off to anybody any time soon. He’s just one of those really impressive running backs.”
Chris Ivory, running back, Jacksonville Jaguars – “The best running back of this generation would be Adrian Peterson. In the league, I think it’s about your mentality and how you approach the game. He has a heart full of fight.”
Mark Barron, safety, Los Angeles Rams – “If you look at him right now, he’s making the same type of runs he made when he first got in the league. That’s amazing. It shows the type of work he puts in and what he does for his body to take care of himself.”
But it was teammate Captain Munnerlyn who may have summed it up best when he spoke to Peterson’s claim that he believes he can play at a high level for many more years to come. At first, Munnerlyn thought he was kidding, but, like the rest of the world that found out a 30-year old running back can still be one of the most dominating players in the game, Munnerlyn is becoming more convinced that, if Peterson says he can do something, you had best believe him.
“I was like, ‘Man, how long are going to play?’” Munnerlyn said. “He said, ‘I’m going to play until I’m 40.’ I was like, ‘Hey dude, that’s like 10 more years from now.’ If he really thinks he can do it, you can’t tell that guy that he can’t do nothing. If you feel like you can do it and he’s going to put his mind to it, I’m really starting to believe that he can be one of those guys that plays that long.”
Last year was a humbling experience for Peterson, as his peers didn’t believe he would be dominating in 2015. A third rushing title later, he proved his skeptics wrong and took his rightful place as the top running back on the NFL Network’s Top 100 list.
TOP 100 NOTES
- The Vikings finished with three players on the Top 100 list – Peterson at No. 5, Harrison Smith at No. 73 and Linval Joseph at No. 76.
- There were a lot of Vikings fans who were surprised that Anthony Barr didn’t make the list. On Wednesday night, we found how close he came. In a segment during the first hour of the two-hour finale, Nos. 101-110 were revealed and Barr finished at No. 101.
- They say kickers don’t get much respect and the Top 100 countdown proved that Wednesday. When listing players 101-110, New England kicker Stephen Gostkowski made the list, but his name was misspelled “Gostowski.”