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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

Peterson's OU career was star-crossed. After an epic freshman season that landed him second in tight Heisman Trophy voting, injuries marred Peterson's sophomore and junior seasons.

But Bob Stoops knew he was watching someone special the first time Stoops saw Peterson.

“You watched him play, he was just different than everybody,” Stoops said. “It wasn't close. He gets here, the buzz of the players … ‘Coach, whatever conditioning drill we ever did, he was first.' Allen Patrick was pretty competitive, he'd be creeping up on him (Peterson), he'd hit another gear. He's just different.

“To go with the amazing physical ability, he's so tough and competitive. He's not like everybody else.”

Peterson will have to come from behind if he is to challenge Brown as the greatest of all time. This will be Peterson's second rushing title in six seasons. Brown led the NFL in rushing in eight of his nine years. Brown was first-team all-pro eight times. This will be Peterson's third season to be all-pro.

Brandt notwithstanding, it will take more than just another monster season in 2013 for Peterson to reach Brown's class.

But break Dickerson's record, and Peterson will have two of the three major rushing records. He already holds the single-game mark of 296 yards, against the Chargers on Nov. 4, 2007.

The shelf life of most running backs is not long. Of course, Peterson is different. In the words of his old coach, Peterson isn't like everybody else.

Peterson is 27. He's already proven that even the worst kind of injury is only a speed bump on his journey.

He's going to need a few more robust seasons to give Brandt a lot of company on the bandwagon.

At least 294 yards this season would help. Even if Peterson needs next Sunday to get there.

Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at

by Berry Tramel
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, and Joe Posnanski for — rank the greatest running backs in NFL history:


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


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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