Minnesota Vikings superstar running back Adrian Peterson has never been afraid to set lofty goals. His latest may be his most idealistic to date, as he sets his sights on Emmitt Smith and the NFL's all-time rushing record.
Dan Wiederer reports Peterson is not only planning to break Smith's mark, which is 18,355 yards, but he already has a date in mind. He's targeting the late stages of the 2017 season to surpass the former Dallas Cowboys feature back.
Q: Forget about Eric Dickerson’s record for a minute. Last December, we talked about Emmitt Smith’s record and I told you you were on pace to get there in Week 4 of 2019. You said sooner and promised to come back with a timetable. Emmitt had 18,355 yards. You’re now 9,506 away. We need a week and a year. When do you get there?
A: Man. Oh boy. I have to do some calculations. I’ve been in the league seven years. I’m already right around [9,000]. Calculate it out … Let’s think. Maybe get a couple 2,000 yard seasons … I've got … Hmmm … 2017.
Q: What week in 2017?
A: Man. I better go late. I’m already getting too far in front of myself. I’ll say Week 16. There it is. Week 16 in 2017. Whoo. That’s pushing it, huh? But hey, pushing it is the only way to do it. You know it.
Perhaps the most amazing part of the comments is Peterson's obvious confidence. He's talking about potentially racking up multiple more 2,000-yard seasons, even though last season was the first of his career, as he fell eight yards short of Eric Dickerson's single-season mark of 2,105 yards.
It takes a special player with incredible self-belief to think he could average more than 120 yards per game for the next four years. Peterson clearly belongs in that category, and after what he was able to do last season, it's impossible to completely discount his prediction.
Amid questions about his knee following surgery to repair major ligaments, he rushed for nearly 2,100 yards—more than 130 yards per game—and once again established himself as one of the sport's best offensive weapons.
Another season like that would obviously make his 2017 goal more attainable. At the same time, it's important to realize his career average is still below 100 yards per game. And only once in his first five seasons did he average more than that mark.
The other issue is the workload he would be forced to endure to reach his goal.
When will Peterson break Smith's mark?
He had 348 rushing attempts and 40 receptions last year. That's a very difficult pace to sustain, even for a supremely athletic player like Peterson. Add in his knee-injury history, and surviving the NFL grind for four seasons at that rate is hard to imagine.
It also doesn't help that Peterson is 28 years old. Most running backs seem to hit a wall around 30 years of age, when the years of wear and tear begin to take their toll. Peterson is clearly planning to run right through that wall without missing a beat to reach Smith's mark.
Given all the things working against him, it's easy to be skeptical. Everything would have to break perfectly for him to come even close to catching Smith by 2017. The report states it wouldn't even happen until 2019 at his current pace.
That said, if there's a running back in the league capable of doing the unthinkable, it's Peterson.