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 Three of that discussion in its entirety.
Q The day Percy Harvin was traded away, you let it be known on Twitter that you weren’t happy at all with that. Can you explain that initial reaction?
A To me, this is how I look at it. I don’t care what’s going on. I am not trading Percy Harvin. If anything, if he’s going to holdout, it’s this. ‘You’re going to sit right here and you’re just not going to play. I’m not going to trade you.’ That’s me. That’s me. So I was upset. This is a guy that you’ve seen what he’s got. Best player I’ve played with. His athletic ability as a whole – fast, quick, elusive, strong as an ox. And it’s all compact in a little body. To me, he was a good guy. We all have our different ways, our personalities. And sometimes they don’t click with certain individuals. That’s life. It happens like that. Especially in this game, you don’t see eye to eye with everybody in every situation. But to me, his was a situation that went overboard and it didn’t really have to go there. It could have been avoided.
Q There’s an outside perception that Percy is difficult to deal with, could be a constant headache in the locker room and was hard to keep happy. But so many guys in that locker room rave that he was a good teammate and they loved playing with him. So how do you describe what it was like being around him?
A He’s fiery. But he’s a good guy. A good guy. He’s a homebody. You’d never see him out at the club. Laid back. Chill. You could trigger him. But he’s not the kind of guy where if you did one thing to him, he’d trigger. For Percy, things would have to build up. And he’d go from 0 to 100 to on you. But that takes a build-up. I’m like that too. I’m not easy to trigger. I definitely have more patience [than Percy]. But I’m like him. Once I trigger, I go 0 to 90 in a hurry. I try to control that to the best of my ability and I thank God for my patience all the time. But some guys don’t have that much patience. But ultimately and overall, Percy’s a good guy. He’s cool. Good person, good teammate.
Q There’s talk all the time in the NFL about the ticking clocks of running backs and how much time they really have in their bodies to excel. Do you realize the tick of your clock now at age 28 in your seventh season and that who you are today can’t last forever?
A Do I realize that? No. I don’t. I’m not going to lie to you. But I feel like me not realizing it helps me. Me not thinking about, ‘Well, my clock is starting to tick. Getting older and older.’ That’s not doing nothing but hurting me. So I’m thinking in my mind that each year I’m getting younger. So any way I can look at it with the most positive view that’s going to help me, that’s the way I’m looking at it.
Q Do you think you’ll be able to accept that when inevitably it does happen?
A Man. It’d be tough. It will be tough. I think that I’m going to play this game and end up on top. So I better walk away where people will say, ‘Ya know what, when he retired at 40 or whatever age, he played just as good as he did when he first got in the league.’
Q People will worry that Adrian Peterson is the next Barry Sanders, a guy who had so much talent and displayed so much brilliance as a running back but never won at that highest level and never had that prolonged postseason success. Has that ever crept into your mind?
A I think we done hit the playoffs way more than Barry Sanders did in Detroit already. But I want championships, man. That’s the ultimate goal – getting a championship. And I’d hate to sit here and feel like I’m stuck in a situation where my only option was to retire. That has to be a lonely feeling and a depressing feeling. I don’t ever want to experience that.
Q Does that 2009 season and that NFC Championship loss to the Saints still stick with you?
A It does. That turnover at the goal line, man. I’ll take that one. I’ll take it. But that stings. I put the ball on the ground three times. I only lost one, but it was critical. I think we gave the ball away like five times, six times that game. But that one right before halftime was so critical. That would have put us up [21-14]. Man. Man. But when I look at that entire game as a whole, at the end we still had the opportunity. It just didn’t work out. I don’t like to point out one particular play because there were so many plays during the game – like my play on the goal line – that could have won us the game. So I’ll never be like, ‘Oh, Favre threw that interception that cost us the game.’ I don’t say that. Because we as a team, especially offensively, we gave that one away. And it [stinks] so much. Because we should have beat the [tar] out of them. We should have. We should have shattered New Orleans that day. If you want to look at it on paper, you’d be like, ‘God! Dog! This game wasn’t close. How much did Minnesota win by?’ Well, they lost.
Q Do you have the appreciation for how close you were to the Super Bowl and how hard it is to get back?
A It’s funny. I was talking the other day about it. Man, that feeling. Being down there in New Orleans, getting ready for that game, one game away from the Super Bowl. It can’t be described, man. You have to be in that moment and experience it. And it feels like it’s been so long. I’m desperate man. I’m desperate to get back there.
Q Forget about Eric Dickerson’s record for a minute. Last December, we talked about Emmitt Smith’s record and I told you you were on pace to get there in Week 4 of 2019. You said sooner and promised to come back with a timetable. Emmitt had 18,355 yards. You’re now 9,506 away. I need a week and a year. When do you get there?
A Man. Oh boy. I have to do some calculations. I’ve been in the league seven years. I’m already right around [9,000]. Calculate it out … Let’s think. Maybe get a couple 2,000 yard seasons … I’ve got … Hmmm … 2017.
Q What week in 2017?
A Man. I better go late. I’m already getting too far in front of myself. I’ll say Week 16. There it is. Week 16 in 2017. Whoo. That’s pushing it, huh? But hey, pushing it is the only way to do it. You know it.