Is Adrian Peterson a Better Athlete Than Bo Jackson?

John RozumCorrespondent IDecember 9, 2012

Bo Jackson sporting the fade and shades.
Bo Jackson sporting the fade and shades.George Rose/Getty Images

Adrian Peterson or Bo Jackson: Who is the better athlete?

Well, it's tough to pick a side, because each impacted the NFL and the world around them in a profound manner.

The interesting connection, though, is that each are having to overcome a seemingly insurmountable injury.

Bo Jackson's hip turned out to be the worse injury, because the man was simply never the same again. Fortunately for Peterson, the NFL's best running back was able to make a comeback and it's no surprise the Minnesota Vikings are in the NFC's playoff mix.

To that end, let's break down what made Jackson and what make Peterson great athletes. Then, we can decide which is better.



Bo Jackson

Two words: Tecmo Bowl.

That video game alone epitomizes Jackson in a nutshell, because the guy was straight up impossible to slow down.

As for real life, Jackson was specimen that presented a 6'1", 230-pound size frame. On an unfathomable scale, however, Jackson was clocked at 4.12 seconds in the 40-yard dash.

The end result is an unimaginable combination of size, power, acceleration, top speed and quickness. Words do not justifiably describe the overall athletic prowess that was Bo Jackson.

Include his feats on the baseball diamond such as beating out a throw to first base from second, throwing out Harold Reynolds from the outfield and making numerous Superman-esque catches and Jackson did not appear human.

Even after his injury there were plenty of brief snapshots of Jackson's talent. Unfortunately, he couldn't get back to the pre-1990 version and the world was left with "what if?"


Adrian Peterson

The most impressive aspect about Adrian Peterson is consistency—and not only consistency, but doing so after an injury.

Peterson entered the NFL in 2007 despite coming off a collar bone injury. In an article by Tom Pedulla of the USA Today from 2007:

The 6-1, 217-pounder was undoubtedly hurt by concerns about whether his broken collarbone has healed.

"My collarbone, I would say it's 90% healed," he said. "A lot of teams know that, and I don't see it stopping me from being prepared for the season."


Peterson then proceeded to rack up 1,609 total yards and score 13 touchdowns as a rookie. In addition, he averaged 5.6 yards per rush and 14.1 yards per reception.

Fast forward to pre-2012 and there were reasonable ACL concerns after 2011. Nevertheless, Peterson put aside any doubts in Week 1. Per the Associated Press via from Week 1:

The Vikings star returned without any trouble, rewarding his team's trust in his repaired left knee with a typical two-touchdown performance.

"I just went out and played. I knew the structure of the ligament was good," said Peterson


Entering Week 14 of the 2012 season, Peterson had collected 1,641 total yards with eight scores. In short, Peterson's ability to overcome tough injuries and produce in dominant fashion as his team's best player warrants the utmost level of recognition.

Oh yeah, and he currently averages five yards per carry so far in his career. Unreal.



Who is Better?

There are two answers here, because Jackson and Peterson are more different than at first glance.

For one, Jackson was a two-sport professional athlete. And during his brief time Jackson was the most unbelievable athlete around.

Peterson, on the contrary, has masterfully put together a spectacular NFL career and still has time left to enhance his resume. As a result, Jackson is the better all-around athlete and Peterson is the better football player.

We can only fantasize about the potential of Jackson's NFL and MLB careers, because it was so short-lived. This, however, is not the case with Peterson.

We're seeing each week how monstrous Minnesota's running back is, and that reality makes him better on the gridiron. Regardless of which player is perceived to be better, though, it's without question that Jackson and Peterson were phenoms of their respective eras.


Follow John Rozum on Twitter.