Saints running back Adrian Peterson said he expects Vikings fans to embrace his return to Minnesota after 10 NFL seasons establishing his Hall of Fame career for the purple and gold.
Peterson touched on many topics during a 15-minute conference call with Twin Cities media on Thursday, including his return to Minnesota, his exit from the Vikings and being part of a running back committee in New Orleans.
He’ll return Monday night when the Vikings host the Saints at U.S. Bank Stadium.
“I think it’ll be a warm welcome,” Peterson said. “I don’t see why it’d be any other way. Ten years played there. A lot of good memories there and being the face of the franchise for so long, giving them everything I’ve got. I don’t think it took a rocket scientist to see when I was on the field, I was giving max effort with everything I did.”
Peterson gained nearly 12,000 rushing yards through three NFL rushing titles, one NFL MVP and countless broken tackles for the Vikings after they made him a first-round pick in 2007.
But the unceremonious end for Peterson included 28 missed games in his last three seasons due to suspension and injury, and another fumble in the Vikings’ most recent playoff loss to the Seahawks two years ago.
“No, I didn’t leave anything on the table,” Peterson said. “I gave it my all with everything I did. Just a prime example of that is last year.”
Then Peterson broke down how he pushed to return from a torn meniscus in his knee that the then 31-year-old running back chose to have fully repaired as opposed to removed, which may have shortened his recovery time.
“Last year I tore 90 percent of my meniscus. All the advice I was getting was if you cut this out, you’ll be bone on bone. If you have surgery to repair it, there’s a 50 percent chance for the meniscus to heal,” Peterson recalled.
“I got the surgery and was told a six to eight month recovery. So the talks from within everyone from the team was ‘well, you can start the rehab and get ready to come back for OTAs, minicamp depending on the healing process.’ That’s what they were telling me,” Peterson said.
“I was like no, I believe in a higher power and I want to get out there and help my team win,” Peterson said. “I’m going to get the meniscus repaired and I’m going to call up the people I know, whether it’s the blood flow restriction therapy or hyperbaric chamber or stem cells that I was able to get done or the ozone therapy I did. This all came out of my pocket. I was doing this every week, spending $10,000 a week to get back out there in the hope of us making it to the playoffs.
“I didn’t sit back and say I’m just going to collect a check. I was fighting, ‘Hey, no, put me on the injured reserve list to return.’ You know?”
Peterson said he and the Vikings “never” discussed a new contract after the team declined his $18 million option. After his final exit interview with the Vikings after the 2016 season, Peterson said he didn’t hear from the team until they signed Latavius Murray in free agency.
“And I was OK with that,” Peterson said. “It was a situation where we both kind of knew where we were. The season didn’t end the way we wanted it to end. Things didn’t happen the way they wanted it to happen Week 15 and 16. A lot of people were on edge. No, it was no ego blow for me.”
On playing in a committee: “It’s an adjustment, you know, and I think it’ll be an adjustment for a couple weeks going in. Because I’m used to being in there at all times. But I’m able to sit back and look at see what we have, and say, ‘Hey, Mark Ingram is a heck of a back,’ and this young back we’ve got, Alvin Kamara, I know for sure he’s a top one or two backs that came out of this draft, for sure.”
On Vikings rookie Dalvin Cook: “I think the sky is the limit for him. Obviously, watching him at Florida State and seeing that he has great ability and seeing a couple clips of him during the preseason as well, I feel like his potential is to the sky. He has good vision, he’s really quick, explosive, a good receiving back as well. So the offense that the Vikings are forming now, I feel he will fit in very well.”
On keeping in touch with ex-Vikings teammates: “Tom Johnson and Danielle Hunter, those guys I worked out with down in Houston and we had Trae Waynes, he came down for a couple days as well. We kind of talked about it a little bit, really didn’t get into too much details.”