NORMAN — Adrian Peterson’s handshake keeps orthopedists in business. Peterson squeezes your hand like he wants you to pull him back on the cliff. Squeezes the way he runs through NFL defenses; with ferocious purpose.
Peterson’s grip on a fulfilling pro football career is not quite so strong.
With the slippage of LaDainian Tomlinson, Peterson wears a new mantle: world’s best tailback. But Peterson’s status does not guarantee Super Bowl reservations.
If the Minnesota Vikings don’t quit fooling around at quarterback, and that includes courting the ancient Brett Favre, Peterson might never see the Super Bowl.
If the Vikes don’t show some smarts, Peterson will wake up one day, be 30 years old and will have traveled the Barry Sanders Parkway. All those yards, all those memories, and not a February to show for it.
Two years into his pro career, Peterson already has played for four starting quarterbacks: Tarvaris Jackson (17 games), Gus Frerotte (11), Kelly Holcomb (three) and Brooks Bollinger (one).
Favre almost surely will become No. 5.
"We’re just trying to sit back, figure out what’s going on,” Peterson said Friday at his youth camp on the OU intramural fields. "He’s a great quarterback. Been in the league 18 years. We’ll see how the chips fall.”
Peterson played it cool. Neither endorsed Favre nor condemned the usurping of Jackson, his teammate.
"I’m not worried about that,” Peterson said of team morale. "I’m sure mentally he (Jackson) understands it’s business. The head coach has a job to do. Whatever players you put in there that has the best chance to win, that’s what you’re going to do.”
That player is not Favre, of course, no matter how much football fans wish and hope.
Forty-year-old quarterbacks will break your heart every time. They will get hurt. They will get avalanched by pass rushes they once avoided. They will throw the ball a hair off the intended target, which gets you beat in the Sunday league.
Favre is more than an NFL legend. He’s the most popular professional athlete of the last quarter century, this side of Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods. Favre’s passion and flare and toughness resonate with every football fan.
But don’t be fooled into believing popularity and passion, flare and toughness, can beat Father Time.