Adrian Peterson has a chance to be the NFL's best running back ever

COMMENTARY — Former Oklahoma football star has set his sights on breaking the league's single-season rushing record. He could do it with a monster game on Sunday against Houston.
by Berry Tramel Published: December 22, 2012
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Adrian Peterson wants to break Eric Dickerson's record. Now.

Not next Sunday. This Sunday. Peterson needs 294 yards to break Dickerson's NFL single-season rushing record of 2,105, set 28 years ago.

Peterson and the Vikings have two games left, Sunday in Houston and next Sunday against Green Bay.

Peterson's mindset? Why wait? Get the whole 294 against his homestate Texans.

“That's how I'm looking at it,” a smiling Peterson told Minnesota media a few days ago. “Get it done. Get it out of the way. We'll see.”

Doubt the former Sooner star at your own risk. Come back from a catastrophic knee injury in less than a year to challenge Dickerson's record? Take aim at Emmitt Smith's career record of 18,355 yards? Be the greatest running back in NFL history?

Peterson has declared them all goals. He sets his sights high. And he might just get there.

Peterson has a chance to supplant Jim Brown as the greatest tailback of all time.

“If you ask me today, I think Brown is better,” said Gil Brandt, a 30-year scout for the Dallas Cowboys and now a scout/historian/contributor for nfl.com. “If Peterson does somewhat next year what he's done this year, I'm very possible to change my mind.”

Better than Barry Sanders or Emmitt Smith. Better than Walter Payton or O.J. Simpson. Better than LaDainian Tomlinson or Marshall Faulk.

With a Viking offense lacking a legitimate quarterback — Peterson is averaging 6.3 yards a carry; quarterback Christian Ponder is averaging 5.9 yards per pass — Peterson's season is even more sensational.

“There's no threat,” Brandt said. “When they had (now-injured flanker) Percy Harvin, they at least had a threat to keep them from stopping the guy.”

Peterson long ago convinced those around him to never sell him short.

“I have determined, after talking to him and talking to people around him, that he is going to be better next year than he was this year,” Sports Illustrated's Peter King, the nation's foremost NFL writer, said on the Dan Patrick Show a few days ago. “He's going to find something that he can do better next year.

“That's what great players, great athletes do. It's why LeBron James is shooting baskets for an hour after they have a bad home loss. They are driven to find the next thing to be great at.”

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by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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The greatest ever?

Three experts — Gil Brandt of nfl.com, profootball-reference.com and Joe Posnanski for si.com — rank the greatest running backs in NFL history:

PROFOOTBALL-REFERENCE.COM

1. Jim Brown

2. Marshall Faulk

3. Emmitt Smith

4. Walter Payton

5. LaDainian Tomlinson

6. Barry Sanders

7. Edgerrin James

8. Thurman Thomas

9. Tony Dorsett

10. Marcus Allen & Jim Taylor

NFL.COM, Gil Brandt

1. Jim Brown

2. Adrian Peterson

3. Eric Dickerson

4. Barry Sanders

5. Walter Payton

6. Gale Sayers

7. O.J. Simpson

8. Earl Campbell

9. Tony Dorsett

10. LaDainian Tomlinson

SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, Joe Posnanski

1. Jim Brown

2. Walter Payton

3. Emmitt Smith

4. Barry Sanders

5. Earl Campbell

6. Marshall Faulk

7. O.J. Simpson

8. Gale Sayers

9. Bo Jackson

10. Red Grange

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