Adrian Peterson: Why the Minnesota Viking's Star Will Defy Injury Limitations

Adam MillerContributor IIIJuly 30, 2012

SAN DIEGO, CA - SEPTEMBER 11:  Running back Adrian Peterson #28 of the Minnesota Vikings carries the ball against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium on September 11, 2011 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Adrian Peterson has a track record of bouncing back from injury that speaks for itself.

Why should 2012 be any different?  

The Minnesota Vikings took a chance in 2007 when they selected Adrian Peterson with the No. 7 pick.  His durability issues left teams hesitant to pick Oklahoma’s star running back.  Minnesota decided the reward would outweigh the risk.

While putting up Hall of Fame numbers, Adrian Peterson has unquestionably been the best running back in the NFL during his five seasons in the League.

2007 Offensive Rookie of the Year. Four Pro Bowls.  The record for most rushing yards in a single game with 296.  10th all-time for career attempt average at 4.826.  Finished four of five seasons in the top six for most regular-season rushing yards.

He has also been about the only bright spot on an otherwise dismal two-and-a-half years for the NFC North’s current bottom feeder. 

On January 24th, 2010 Minnesota was one pass interference call away from the Super Bowl.

Everything that could go wrong with a franchise and more has transpired since.

A messy retirement waffling.  Quarterback merry-go-round of six different signal-callers.  A busted stadium.  An ACL and MCL tear to their $100 million super star.  Randy Moss coming back for four games.  Giving the boot to the coach that took them to the NFC Championship.  Losing to the Lions.  Percy Harvin wants out

Most stars in most sports would have wanted a trade.  They run when things get rough.  It says a lot about his character that he wanted to stick it out and give the franchise his all. 

Running back is one of the most difficult positions to consistently perform at an elite level.

What happened to Chris Johnson already? How did Shaun Alexander disappear so fast? Priest Holmes?  Mike Anderson? Larry Johnson?

One could name several other backs that vanished almost as quickly as they burst on the scene. 

No. 28 is not going to end up on that list. 

Adrian Peterson has suffered more than a handful of serious injuries.  His violent and upright running style has made a periodic visit to the sidelines inevitable. 

During his freshman campaign as a Sooner, he dislocated his shoulder.  As a sophomore he injured his ankle early in the season.  Then as a junior, he broke his collarbone in his final season in college. 

Part of being an elite athlete, especially at football, is the ability to stay healthy.  That did not stop the Minnesota Vikings from taking the college star that “fell” to the seventh pick. 

However, the injuries did not stop there.

In his rookie and breakout season he tore his LCL.  The next season he strained his hamstring, limiting him early in the season.  In 2011 he suffered a high ankle sprain before ending the season by tearing his MCL and ACL against the Washington Redskins

He has come back just as strong from each and every injury. 

After all of those college injuries he burst onto the NFL season like he had never even suffered a bruise.  Less than a year after breaking his collarbone in 2006 he rushed for 253 yards in a single half, against the Chargers

I’m not saying Peterson will never get injured again.  Or that he is invincible.  Or that he will perform at this level until he’s 40. 

He is simply in a class of his own.  His immaculate physique and ability to rehab from injuries in the past leave no comparison. 

There are very few professional athletes that have been able to successfully overcome ACL tears including Tom Brady, Tiger Woods, Kendrick Perkins and Jamal Lewis. 

Yet history is definitely against him.

Players who tear their ACL and undergo surgery almost never come back the same.  Some do not come back at all. 

Terrell Davis.  Jamal Anderson. Edgerrin James. Ronnie Brown.  Deuce McCallister.

From a purple and yellow standpoint, Daunte Culpepper is the first player that comes to mind.

In the middle of the 2005 season, the star quarterback tore three ligaments in his knee and was never the same.

If Peyton Manning had not played out of his mind in 2004 , Daunte Culpepper would have won the NFL MVP.  Since his knee injury, he has passed out of relevance, bounced around the League, dabbled in the UFL and mulled retirement on multiple occasions.  

On a long-term scale, torn anterior cruciate ligaments have a 75%-95% chance of a successful reconstruction.  While that statistic is encouraging, it does not take in consideration the severe wear and tear inflicted by an elite athlete. 

Nor does it reflect Peterson’s goal of an eight-month recovery. 

The reward continues to outweigh the risk. 


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