Adrian Peterson’s visit to Minnesota on Thursday night was the lead story in today’s Star Tribune with colleague Mark Craig’s piece on Peterson’s production at age 34.
Fellow colleague Jim Souhan wrote a column examining who deserves praise or boos among players, coaches and executives on the two teams playing tonight.
Regarding Peterson, Souhan writes to both cheer and jeer, which gets to the heart of something I’ve been thinking about in anticipation of seeing Peterson play in person again.
I covered Peterson’s Vikings career almost in its entirety as either a beat writer or columnist, and in trying to characterize his legacy with the team, the word I keep coming back to is complicated. Very complicated.
There seems to be a wide range of fan opinions with Peterson. Some still adore him. Some loathe him. And some likely sit somewhere in the middle between appreciating his generational talent and competitive nature while recognizing his flaws as a player and off-the-field issues that changed everything.
Peterson was booed loudly when he returned with the New Orleans Saints in 2017. There were also many No. 28 jerseys in the stadium that night.
For me, it’s impossible to separate all the different tentacles when reflecting on Peterson’s tenure. And there are a lot of chapters in that book.
A quick summary: 296 yards, rookie of the year, Pro Bowls, fumbles in NFC Championship game, $96 million contract, knee injury, 2097 yards, MVP, child-abuse case, commissioner’s exempt list, trade or don’t trade, friction with front office, another knee injury, breathtaking runs (Cleveland 2009) and maddening fumbles, and so much more that isn’t covered in this snapshot.
Again, a complicated legacy.
I wrote in 2017 that the organization needed to move on from Peterson for a variety of reasons. A professional divorce became both obvious and necessary.
I also thought that his career was basically done. Here is what I wrote 2½ years ago:
“Let’s deal with reality. Peterson turns 32 in three weeks. He plays a position that historically has been unforgiving to those on the wrong side of 30. He has amassed more than 2,400 carries in his career, hellbent on dishing out physical punishment on many of those. He has battled injuries in recent years, a red flag under any circumstance, much less to a 32-year-old running back with many miles on his tires.”
As Mark noted in his story today, Peterson is proving people wrong again. He rushed for 1,042 yards last season and has been given an expanded role since Bill Callahan replaced Jay Gruden after an 0-5 start.
Logic suggests that Peterson will have a tough time against Mike Zimmer’s defense at home. I’m curious to see if the reaction he receives from Vikings fans is similar to his 2017 visit.