In 2012, Adrian Peterson became the seventh player in NFL history to rush for more than 2,000 yards in a season, exploding through an MVP campaign that saw him rush for 2,097 yards.
Three years earlier, Tennessee’s Chris Johnson beat Peterson to that milestone, tallying 2,006 yards in just his second season in the league.
Somewhere along the line, Peterson and Johnson have become permanently linked. So occasionally, debates will spring up as to who the more explosive back really is. And while Peterson would probably win the popular vote easily in such conversations, Johnson has been productive enough during his five years in the NFL to continue nipping at Peterson’s heels.
Johnson signed his blockbuster contract with the Titans in 2011, inking an extension worth $53.5 million over four years. Peterson landed his big payday less than two weeks later: seven years, $100 million.
And now Peterson, coming off the best season in his career, finds himself rolling his eyes at Johnson’s recent assertion that he will win the 2013 rushing title. After all, that’s a championship belt Peterson has no intent on giving up.
Last week on ESPN, Johnson said he would indeed outrush Peterson in 2013. (To put it in context and to be fair to Johnson, ESPN’s Trey Wingo asked who would rack up more rushing yardage next season: Johnson or Peterson. So naturally, the Titans back voted for himself. What else was he supposed to do?)
“I’m very confident,” Johnson said. “I’ve always been a confident guy. And in this situation if you want something to happen, you’ve got to speak on it. You’ve got to believe on it. And you’ve just got to pray and God will lead you there.”
Sounds very similar to the philosophy Peterson has employed throughout his career and is using to fuel his next chase: a possible 2,500-yard season in 2013.
Yet as the Vikings star has received more and more questions about Johnson’s recent comments, he fired a barb back at Johnson on Twitter on Monday.
Why would or should I care about what CJ has to say? Before you tweet what he's saying, ask yourself that question! MVPeterson— Adrian Peterson (@AdrianPeterson) March 4, 2013
For what it’s worth, Peterson has averaged 5.0 yards per carry and 1,475 yards per season during his six NFL seasons. Johnson has averaged 4.7 yards per carry and 1,378 yards per season during his five years in Tennessee.
Having played one more full season, Peterson also holds an 80-48 advantage in touchdowns.