For fans old and young, to witness a player like Adrian Peterson take off down the field for a big gain is one of the joys that come with the game of football. For fans that have been around the game for many years may see something in Peterson’s running game that many compare to greats like Marshall Faulk, Earl Campbell, Walter Payton, O.J. Simpson and Eric Dickerson. For the fans that are finally old enough to understand the game and those who are new to the football world, many see Peterson as the most dominant running back in the game today, someone who never quits and brings everything he can all day, every day.
When Adrian Peterson was just seven years old, he witnessed a drunk driver kill his nine-year old brother while he was riding his bike. At such a young age, Peterson needed a way to vent his anger. He found an interest in football and shortly after his brother’s death he was on the field playing the game he would later fall in love with. He would become the star of his Pee Wee team at such a young age. When he was 12-years old he participated in the Pop Warner Football program; a non-profit organization that provides youth football, cheerleading, and dance programs for participants in 43 U.S. states and several countries around the world.
In high school he was heavily involved in athletics as he competed in track and field and was a member of both the basketball and football teams. Although he was talented in all of them, Peterson excelled so much more on the field in the running back position. In just two seasons, Peterson carried the ball 498 times for 5,011 yards with an average of 10 yards per carry, and scored 54 touchdowns. After a game in his senior year, the opposing team approached Peterson looking to get an autograph out of the star running back. With schools like Texas, Texas A&M, UCLA, Arkansas, Miami, Oklahoma and USC all interested in the high school phenom, he wanted to attend a school where he would be able to be a difference-maker in a national championship run and ended up choosing the University of Oklahoma.
In his freshman season at Oklahoma, Peterson was able to make a name for himself and a huge impact on the field as he broke many NCAA freshman rushing records that year. He led the nation with 339 carries that year, totaling 1,295 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns. In each of his first nine games of the season, he rushed for more than 100-yards; a freshman record. In a game against Oklahoma State, Peterson rushed for a career-high 249 yards, including an 80-yard touchdown run and 161 rushing yards in the third quarter alone. While going for his ninth consecutive 100-yard game against Texas A&M, Peterson dislocated his left shoulder in the first half but still managed to run for 101 yards and a touchdown on 29 attempts. One of the other records he set that season was the most 100-yard games by a freshman – finishing with 11, and helped turn the University of Oklahoma into one of the nation’s top rushing teams just one year after they were ranked near the bottom of the list. Despite his impressive freshman season, he finished second to USC quarterback Matt Leinart in the Heisman Trophy voting; which was highest for a freshman, was a finalist for the Doak Walker Award, and was the first Oklahoma freshman recognized as a First-Team Associated Press All-American.
The following season would not be as pleasant for Peterson as his playing time was limited due to a high ankle sprain. Despite missing time in four games that year, he still managed to elapse the 1,000-yard mark, rushing for 1,208 yards and scoring 14 touchdowns on 220 carries. He managed to finish second in Big 12 rushing yardage and ran for another big touchdown run against Oklahoma State University, this time scoring on an 84-yard run.
Another injury would haunt the star running back in his junior season as he broke his collarbone in a game against Iowa State University when he attempted to dive into the end zone on a 53-yard touchdown run. At the time of his injury, he was just 150 yards shy of passing Billy Sims’ record as the University’s all-time leading rusher. He was unable to return until their last game against Boise State in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl, where he managed to rush for 77 yards and a touchdown. Unfortunately for Peterson, he would fall 73 yards short of passing Billy Sims as Oklahoma’s all-time leading rusher. Despite missing time due to injuries, Peterson managed to finish his college career with a total of 4,405 rushing yards and 41 touchdowns on 747 carries.
Peterson decided to declare himself eligible for the upcoming NFL Draft, where he was selected with the 7th overall pick by Minnesota Vikings and was the first running back selected in the draft that season. He put high expectations on himself for his rookie season, announcing his goals of wanting to be named Offensive Rookie of the Year and to rush for over 1,300 yards throughout the course of the year. His breakout game came on October 14, 2007 against the Chicago Bears. In this game, Peterson set a then-franchise record of 224 rushing yards on 20 carries. He set two other team rookie records; which include most 100-yard rushing games and the longest touchdown from scrimmage.
Following the performance, Deion Sanders stated that; “he has the vision of a Marshall Faulk, the power of an Earl Campbell, and the speed of Eric Dickerson. Let’s just pray he has the endurance of an Emmitt Smith.”
For a guy who wanted to be a significant part of his team, he was now getting the praise and recognition from some of the game’s best. Three weeks after his breakout performance he was at it again. He broke his own franchise record, as well as the NFL single game rushing yard record, on November 4, 2007, when he rushed for 296 yards and three touchdowns on 30 carries against the San Diego Chargers. Although he ended up missing some time due to an injury, he managed to be selected to the Pro Bowl and finished second in rushing yards behind LaDainian Tomlinson. Peterson lived up to his own expectations in his rookie season, finishing the year with 1,341 yards on 238 attempts and being named the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. He even took home the MVP award from the Pro Bowl, becoming the first rookie to take home both awards since Marshall Faulk did so in 1994.
The following season, Peterson had higher expectations for himself. This time around he was focusing on having a 2,000-yard season while taking home the NFL MVP award. Although he did not accomplish what he had in mind, the sophomore season for Peterson was another impressive one. For the second straight season, Peterson was named the starting running back for the NFC Pro Bowl team and led the league in rushing with 1,760 yards; the third-most yards put up by a sophomore in NFL history. He also found himself on the All-Pro team once again, as well joining a list of legends such as Eric Dickerson, Earl Campbell and Jim Brown as he became just the fourth running back to lead the league in yards per game in his first two seasons.
The next two seasons would be similar to his first two. Peterson eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark both seasons, rushing for 1,383 yards and 1,298 yards respectfully. His receiving yards improved over the two years as he had 43 receptions in 2009 for 436 yards and 36 receptions in 2010 for 341 yards. After rushing for 22 touchdowns in his first two seasons, Peterson managed to rush for 18 during the ’09 season and 16 the following season. Each year Peterson has played in the NFL he has been named to the All-Pro team as well as the Pro Bowl team, where he has been selected as the starting running back three out of the four years he has made the team. Currently seven games through his fifth NFL season, Peterson has rushed 146 times for 712 yards and eight touchdowns so far this season. At this point he is on pace to tie his career-high in touchdowns and should total at least 1,300 yards; something he has been pretty consistent with throughout his career.
Adrian Peterson has always been one to give back to the supporting community around him. He did it while he was attending the University of Oklahoma and continues to do so in Minnesota. He created the All Day Foundation; with the name coming from his nickname ‘All Day’ which was given to him by his father when he was younger, to help raise funds for purpose of inspiring hope, enriching children’s lives and building a better future for kids. The Foundation supports many local programs such as Boys and Girls Club of America; Special Olympics Minnesota; Feed the Children; The Whitten-Newman Foundation; and Inspire Management Company. He does other things around the community like hosting his own football camps, dinner galas to raise money for the Foundation through silent auctions, and helps out high school football teams. Aside from his nickname being ‘All Day’, Peterson went with the name All Day Foundation to remind kids to give it their all everyday of their lives just like he continues to do both on and off the field and it’s a reminder to him to go out and serve the community any way that he can.
He has quite the impressive résumé to date as he is currently playing in just his fifth NFL season. The NFL Network ranked him as the third best player in the league after last season, ranking him behind Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. He has been consistent every year with impressive numbers and he has caught the eyes of the legends that once ruled the world of football when they were starting running backs for their respected teams. Fans everywhere watch in awe whenever they see him break tackles or run into the end zone with an opposing player holding on to him for dear life. He knows what he wants to accomplish as a professional running back and no one has been able to stop him yet. Sure, he didn’t rush for 2,000 yards in his sophomore season and the Vikings have not won a championship yet, but through four full seasons he has rushed for 5,782 yards and 56 touchdowns, as well as being named to the All-Pro and Pro Bowl teams each year. If he can manage to last as long as Emmitt Smith did just like Deion Sanders said, there is no doubt that Adrian Peterson will have his name all over the record books come retirement.
To find out more about the All Day Foundation, visit http://www.alldayfoundation.org/