“I did that for months,” he said. “It was excruciating as far as the time commitment and the pain I had to endure.”
But the results were obvious. Peterson set the gold standard for returning from a torn ACL. Someone might do it as well, but no one will ever do it any better.
What a wondrous mix of work ethic, genetics and technology.
Will that cocktail slow the hands of time?
Our man Trent Shadid crunched some numbers, and he determined that the average age among running backs in the NFL last season was 25.7. Peterson’s college alma mater could play a running back this fall who’s closer to 25 than he is.
And when you look at the running backs in their 30s last season who got the bulk of their teams carries, you won’t see a bunch of superstars. Frank Gore is the best of the bunch, having his third consecutive 1,000-yard season for San Francisco last season as a 30-year-old. Steven Jackson has been a Pro Bowler but not since 2010. DeAngelo Williams has been a Pro Bowler, too, but not since 2009.
Those three guys are good — every player in the NFL is — but none rises to the level of Peterson. He has been a beast, and if you watched the Vikings at all last season, you know he rushed for nearly 1,300 yards for a team thin at the skill positions.
The Vikings signed flake-out Josh Freeman to play quarterback at one point, fercryinoutloud.
Still, Peterson, who had offseason groin surgery, chuckled during the conference call Wednesday when someone asked whether he’d thought about preserving his body by sharing carries with another back.
“Not at all,” he said.
That’s when Peterson brought up Brett Favre, Tony Richardson and Steve Hutchinson. Favre played quarterback in the NFL for 20 years, Richardson played fullback for 16, and Hutchinson played offensive line for 12. They played well into their 30s and beyond.
None of them, of course, were hard-running tailbacks.
Neither were those guys in their 40s and 50s running sprints that Peterson talked about watching on YouTube.
Peterson is a smart guy, so he knows that he is facing a huge challenge over these next few seasons. Still, whether in his own locker room or on YouTube, he has seen lots of evidence of just how much the human body can do — and we already know that his body can do amazing things.
Who’s to say Peterson can’t bowl over Father Time, too?
Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at 475-4125. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.