We’re not sure if this is the official crossroads of Adrian Peterson’s career — the point where we stop talking about his potential, or even his greatness, and start wondering how much time is left.
But it feels as though his NFL peers are thinking in those terms. ESPN conducted an anonymous survey of more than 320 NFL players, asking them which active player who has never made it to the Super Bowl they would like to see in the big game.
The winner? Peterson.
Now, part of this is because of his greatness. He is undoubtedly one of the greatest players of this generation, and his fellow players know that and would like to see greatness on the highest level.
“That’s pretty cool,” Peterson told ESPN.com.
But part of us also thinks you don’t make that answer if you don’t sense the window is at least starting to close on a career.
Peterson got 59 votes. The next-highest player was Tony Gonzalez, the game-changing tight end. Gonzalez will be 38 next month. Peterson will be 29 in a couple of months. In running back years, Peterson is getting up there. A lot of players at his position hit a wall around age 30, unable to sustain a high level after so many seasons of pounding.
While we should never doubt that Peterson could be the exception based on his injury comeback in 2012 and general physical freakishness, the fact remains that he already has played seven NFL seasons.
Peterson came within a whisper of the Super Bowl in 2009. Otherwise, he’s had two one-and-dones in the playoffs. And his team is no closer to solving its QB situation than it was in 2007 when he came into the league.
If he never plays in the Super Bowl, he will join some great players with that unfortunate distinction: Barry Sanders, Dan Fouts, LaDainian Tomlinson … and, yes, former Vikings such as Cris Carter and John Randle.
We remember those players for being great, not for missing the Super Bowl. That said, we dare say Peterson would vault to the top of that list — yes, better than Sanders — if he never gets there.
Peterson’s peers don’t want to see that happen. The question is, how many more chances will he get?