Why jump on a bandwagon when you can ride the train? Adrian Peterson once again put the Vikings on his back and continued his epic season with a
212-yard, one-touchdown performance against a stacked St. Louis Rams defense that hadn’t allowed more than 65 yards to a running back in its last four games.
Running backs have been given nicknames for as long as there’s been an NFL. Jerome Bettis was “The Bus,” Najeh Davenport was “The Dump Truck,” Elroy Hirsch was “Crazy Legs,” and Tampa Bay’s Doug Martin has been dubbed “The Muscle Hamster.” Adrian Peterson’s father gave him the moniker “All Day,” when Adrian was an extremely hyperactive toddler, and he has been called “AD” ever since. Against the Rams, however, Peterson was “The A-Train,” starting slowly, building up a head of steam—sleek, fast, powerful, and unstoppable. On Sunday, the Vikings rode the express, not the local, and weren’t hindered by frequent stops caused by incompetent coaching decisions and inept quarterback play.
What a difference a year makes. After Sunday’s game Peterson has a personal best 1,812 yards rushing and has Eric Dickerson’s NFL record of 2,105 in his sights with two games remaining. This is an amazing feat, which becomes miraculous when you consider that last Christmas Eve, he was writhing on the turf of the Redskins FedEx Field with a devastating knee injury. No matter what you want to call him, the way he conducted himself immediately after the injury, and during his excruciating rehabilitation program, tells you a lot about the man named Adrian Peterson.
Before the game, Peterson had agreed to sign a jersey for a young fan.
After the game, despite suffering all the pain and anguish associated with what easily could have become a career-ending injury, he signed a jersey and made sure that the fan received it. Then he began attacking his rehabilitation with the same power, intensity, and focus that he has always delivered to would be defenders. He promised to be back in action for opening day, and he delivered despite the naysayers throughout the league and within the organization.
Peterson’s incredible comeback is a tribute to both an otherworldly work ethic and outstanding DNA. Adrian’s mother was a scholarship sprinter and long jumper at the University of Houston, and his father was a McDonalds All American basketball player who tried out with the Philadelphia 76ers professional team, and was getting ready to attend training camp when he was accidently shot in the thigh by his brother while he was cleaning a gun.
Everything about Peterson’s rehab was fast-forwarded, including his surgery, which was performed only six days after the injury occurred. His surgeon, Dr. James Andrews, said that Peterson’s knee “looked like a newborn baby,” and had none of the wear and tear most running backs exhibit.
What makes Adrian Peterson run? What stokes his inner fire, and pushes him farther, faster, and higher than normal human beings? In an article by Steve Marsh for Grantland.com, Peterson revealed that his inspiration comes from his half-brother Brian, who was killed in front of the family’s home by a drunk driver. Adrian was seven and Brian was eight. The two had been inseparable, and Brian was always the faster of the two.
Adrian witnessed the accident, and cradled his brother’s head until the ambulance arrived. It was a devastating event for the Peterson family, especially for his mother, and Adrian was determined to be strong for her.
Now, every time he finishes off a run by blasting a linebacker, or shakes loose from a defender and takes a run to the house, he does it for the brother who never had a chance.
So, as we enter into the holiday season, let’s count our blessings, and not forget that Adrian Peterson is giving us two Christmas presents we never imagined on that dark day a year ago. We have a chance to make the playoffs, and watch the best back ever to wear the purple try to achieve football’s all-time rushing record. Who could ask for more?