Eric Dickerson holds the NFL record for most rushing yards in a single season with 2,105. Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson is on pace for 1,969 yards this season, though given the way he has run the last seven weeks, he could blow by that total and approach the record.
But if you were to ask Dickerson how he feels about Peterson approaching his record, he is not too high on it. In an interview with Mike Freeman of CBS Sports, Dickerson was asked about what Peterson is doing right now and how he feels about it.
I don't want him to break it. I'll be honest. I don't want to see it. If anyone ever broke it, and if my son played football, I'd want my son to break it. But that's it. No one else.
Again, he's a phenomenal player, and seems like a good dude. If a player was to break it, I'd probably want it to be Adrian, but I like having the record. I don't think it's going to be broken.
Most athletes would probably say the right thing in that situation—and it's not like Dickerson is berating Peterson or the fact that he is getting close to his record—but it is refreshing to see someone give a completely and wholly honest answer to a question.
In an interview with Dan Patrick earlier this week, Peterson was asked whether Dickerson should be nervous or not. Peterson said, "I think so," and that he does think about breaking the record.
Peterson has been on an incredible run, no pun intended. Of the 1,600 yards he has rushed for this season, 1,101 of them have come in his current streak of seven consecutive 100-yard games. He is averaging 6.0 yards per carry.
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In a league that has shifted so much towards the quarterback and passing the ball, what Peterson is doing for the Vikings is nothing short of remarkable. You could argue that running for 2,000 yards today is harder than it was in Dickerson's day precisely because the NFL is such a pass-happy league.
But for Dickerson to admit that he wants to keep the record is smart. Records in sports are so precious that if you are fortunate enough to hold one, you want to hang onto it forever.
Hank Aaron never wanted Barry Bonds to break his record of 755 home runs, but when it happened Aaron was there to say all the right things and praise Bonds for being a great player.
In the NFL, records don't get nearly as much publicity as they do in baseball. Everyone knows who holds the career records for hits, home runs and wins in Major League Baseball.
It takes a special record for people to pay attention to it in the NFL. Dickerson's mark of 2,105 rushing yards set in 1984 has been flirted with on a number of occasions, most recently by Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson in 2009.
But no one has been able to break the magical number. Dickerson doesn't have to root for Peterson to wipe him out of the record books, nor should he. Records are made to be broken, but that doesn't mean the people having their records broken have to be smiling when others eclipse them.
Of course, Peterson still has a long way to go before approaching Dickerson's record and just three weeks to do it. He will have to average almost 169 yards per game to get there. It is not impossible, but the odds are stacked against him.