The Vikings will put the pads on at training camp for the first time Monday afternoon, continuing a lengthy stay in Mankato that they hope can propel another playoff run. The linchpin for this season’s success: running back Adrian Peterson, who has vowed to better the 2,000-yard MVP season he delivered a year ago. Vikings beat writer Dan Wiederer sat down this weekend for a 1-on-1 interview with Peterson.
Here is Part One of that discussion in its entirety.
Q So 2,500 yards. How many times have people brought that number and that goal up to you in the last six months?
A A lot. Too many. A thousand times.
Q My sense from you is that people are getting fixated on the number itself and missing the crux of things and what that goal really means to you. Fair?
A Completely. I set that goal because I’m always looking to improve and to challenge myself in a lot of different ways. So for me 2,500 is a new challenge. Listen, if I don’t hear that number mentioned to me again, I’ll be all good. It’s like this. People hear that 2,500 and it’s ‘Oh wow. That’s not possible. What was he thinking?’ They kind of focus on it too much. In my mind, I’m not looking at it like that at all.
Q When you look back to what you accomplished last year for yourself, what did you prove to yourself?
A That there was nothing I couldn’t overcome. Even during the tough times, the toughest times, if you just stay focused and stay determined things can work out for the better, despite what everybody else has to say. I heard so many people talking, ‘There’s no way he’s going to be able to come back. He’s not going to do this or do that.’ But to me, people can beat the odds.
Q Did you take some satisfaction from the awards you were able to haul in? You get the MVP award at the Super Bowl, the ESPYs, the victory lap so to speak. Did you soak that in, getting that recognition on so many stages?
A In a way a little bit. But not really. For me, I felt like last offseason I was to myself and off and I had more time to kind of relax and really work hard more consistently. This offseason, I still worked hard and consistent. But there was a lot of travel, hopping state to state, city to city. It’s no big deal as long as you put your work in. But it’s a lot easier to be relaxing and putting your work in rather than putting your work in and traveling in between.
Q Did hauling in that MVP trophy make up at all for that 2004 Heisman Trophy that you felt you got robbed out of?
A Yeah. I think it can make up for that a little bit. This one’s definitely bigger. And I look at that [Heisman] Trophy now and knowing that Matt Leinart has it, with how his career went, I would rather him have it. At least he has something positive to look back on and say, ‘I won the Heisman.’ I feel good that he has it. Even though I know it should have been mine.
Q You talked Friday about the suspicions that are out there about you and Human Growth Hormone and performance enhancing drugs. Where have you personally picked up on those suspicions – fans, other players, where?
A A lot of it’s on Twitter. And of course I’ve heard it on the field. One of the players from Detroit came up to me and said something funny. He didn’t say HGH specifically but he was like, ‘Man, whatever you’re on, let me know. I want to take some of that.’ You hear all sorts of speculation, people saying this and that. But for me, I’ve always approached that and looked at that and it gives me a pump. To me, the way I look at it, it makes me feel good to know that people think I perform to a level where it was so spectacular that they think I was taking HGH. I say to myself, ‘Wow! God has really blessed me with the talent and intangibles to perform at that level.’ So for me, I hear that and I don’t take it as an insult, I take it as a compliment.
Q You have said that you understand the temptation for guys in this league to take HGH and other things. It’s a league that’s so pressure-packed and guys are trying to provide for their families. What is that dynamic and that temptation?
A Not everybody can get by on natural ability. Not everybody is willing to put in the hard work. And there are a lot of guys who put in so much hard work and still don’t have that athletic ability to push them over that edge to keep them playing this game for a long time. So they’re always trying to find that supplement that can help them reach that next level. Look, I don’t know anything about HGH, ‘roids, none of that. Because I have no use for it. But of course, in this world we’re living in, you hear about it. You know it’s being used. And taking HGH hasn’t been tested in the NFL. So I’m not stupid. I’m not blind to the fact that guys are using it. To me, it is what it is. I can only control what I can control. And that’s me busting my butt and going out there and playing against those guys that are juiced up and still doing them in.
Read Part Two of the interview here.