Eric Dickerson made it perfectly clear in an interview with the NFL Network's Scott Hanson that he doesn't want Adrian Peterson to break his single season rushing record this year. Both Peterson and Dickerson have high admiration for one another, and have been professional in interviews about the record. Peterson currently has 1,898 yards for the 2012 season with one more game remaining against the Green Bay Packers. The record that Dickerson set in 1984, is 2,105. Peterson has shown that he can break the 200-yard barrier more than once this season, so it isn't out of the realm of possibility that by the end of Sunday evening the record could be his.
The real story though, isn't even how close Peterson has come to breaking Dickerson's record. Last December in a win against the Washington Redskins, Peterson tore both his MCL and ACL. He only played 12 games last season, and failed to reach 1,000 yards for the first time in his career. Many didn't know how well Peterson would come back from such a traumatic injury. Running backs are known to suffer knee injuries more so than other positions, and many times it can hinder or halt a player's career for good. Peterson rehabbed vigorously in the offseason, and was determined to come back better than ever this year.
He was questionable in Week One of the 2012 season, but was slated as the starter and ended up rushing for 84 yards and two touchdowns just eight months after suffering the ACL and MCL tear. It is truly unbelievable what Peterson has been able to do, and he is on track to win the MVP or Comeback Player of the Year. His stiffest competition for both awards is Peyton Manning who came back from his own horrific injury to his neck. After multiple surgeries and sitting out the entire 2011 season, Manning as well is better than ever.
Peterson is still relatively young for an NFL player, and is a six-year veteran at 27 years old. But considering other running backs before him, he is at the climax of his career with knee injuries already, and he may not be able to again produce such staggering numbers as he did this year. Consider Ladainian Tomlinson's career-defining year when he was 27. He rushed for 1,815 yards, and 28 touchdowns. He still was an elite running back the next year, and started his decline to mediocrity the year after that. By the age of 30 he was far removed from his Pro-Bowl days, and wasn't a starter by 32 years old.
If Peterson can piece together two or three more Pro Bowl caliber seasons before declining, he will surely cement himself as a first ballot hall of famer. He already has the most rushing yards in a game with 296, most rushing touchdowns of 60+ yards with ten, and is the leading rusher of all time in Vikings history. Coming back from the injuries he suffered last year, is almost unexplainable. Medical technology is better than its ever been, and Peterson has been lucky enough to reap the benefits of the top medical minds in the country. But Peterson also put in a determined effort in his rehabilitation, and is now showing other running backs that you can come back from serious career plaguing injuries and still be competitive, fast and elusive.
The NFL running back has such a small window to contribute in the league before succumbing to injuries, trades and younger competition in training camp. Peterson is cognizant of his climatic season he is having right now, and undoubtedly knows that the time is now for him to take the reins as the premier rusher in the National Football League. He plays the game the right way, and for the most part is a stand-up citizen off the field. He has had a few run-in's with the law, but overall he has provided a lot of his time and money towards foundations, children, schools and research after signing his 90+ million dollar extension with Minnesota. Hopefully Peterson can go against the mold of running back's before him and be a prolific scorer and starter well past 30. Only time will tell, but at age 27 the sky's the limit for what number 28 can do on the field.