Much has been made over the last past few days about Adrian Peterson’s tweet that shows more than a passing interest in roster moves made by the New York Giants, who recently released veterans Victor Cruz and Rashad Jennings to free up cap space. Jennings, of course, was the starting running back of the Giants. It has led the sky-is-falling crowd to surmise that Peterson is done with the Minnesota Vikings, which is most likely true.
But the bigger question is why do Vikings fans think he’s going to end his career in Minnesota?
If you know your history, you already know that elite rushers almost never spend their entire careers with just one team. While three of the top 10 rushers – Walter Payton (No. 2), Barry Sanders (No. 3) and Jim Brown (No. 10) – played with just one team, two of them (Sanders and Brown) left on their own terms playing 10 or fewer seasons, and Payton, who played 13 seasons with Chicago, played before free agency was allowed.
But, of the top 49 rushers in NFL history, only five have played their careers with just one team – Peterson (No. 16 overall) and Tiki Barber (No. 26), are the only others to have played their entire careers with just one team.
Of the other 44 rushers – a whopping 90 percent – have played with more than one team, even some names that one would never associate with a team other than the one they became famous with.
Need proof? Here you go.
Two teams – Emmitt Smith (No. 1), Curtis Martin (No. 4), LaDainian Tomlinson (No. 5), Jerome Bettis (No. 6), Frank Gore (No. 8), Tony Dorsett (No. 9), Marshall Faulk (No. 11), Marcus Allen (No. 13), Franco Harris (No. 14), Thurman Thomas (No. 15), Fred Taylor (No. 17), John Riggins (No. 19), Corey Dillon (No. 20), O.J. Simpson (No. 21), Warrick Dunn (No. 22), Jamal Lewis (No. 24), Eddie George (No. 27), Ottis Anderson (No. 28), Clinton Portis (No. 30), Joe Perry (No. 31), Shaun Alexander (No. 33), Matt Forte (No. 34), Earl Campbell (No. 35), Marshawn Lynch (No. 37), LeSean McCoy (No. 38), Jim Taylor (No. 40), Gerald Riggs (No. 45), Priest Holmes (No. 46), Maurice Jones-Drew (No. 47) DeAngelo Williams (No. 48) and Larry Csonka (No. 49).
Three teams – Edgerrin James (No. 12), Steven Jackson (No. 18), Ricky Watters (No. 23), Ricky Williams (No. 29), Chris Johnson (No. 32), Ahman Green (No. 36), Earnest Byner (No. 42) and Roger Craig No. 44).
Four teams – Eric Dickerson (No. 7), Willis McGahee (No. 41) and Herschel Walker (No. 43).
Five teams – Thomas Jones (No. 25) and Terry Allen (No. 39).
The reality of football is that, while star running backs have always been a part of the game, seeing the best of the best stay with the same team for an entire career is remote. There is no question that Peterson will forever be identified with the Vikings because he spent a decade here and has steadily climbed the all-time rushing list. But, before he calls it a career – five years from now if you listen to A.P. himself – it likely isn’t going to be with the Vikings, whether that is this year, next year or somewhere down the line.