Sportsperson of the year: Peterson is runaway winner

  • Article by: DAN WIEDERER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 23, 2012 - 8:24 PM

The discussion over who was going to win the Star Tribune honor began and ended with the Vikings running back.

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Adrian Peterson has been given a piece of paper.

On it, written in black Sharpie, is a number: 18,355.

Peterson easily recognizes it.

"Oh yeah," he says, growing almost giddy. "Emmitt Smith."

Those 18,355 yards measure Smith’s NFL career rushing record, a landmark near the top of Peterson’s "Become The Greatest Of All Time" checklist.

He stares at the total.

"Reachable," he asserts. "It can happen."

With that number, Peterson is also given a date: Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019. This is foreign to the Vikings star, prompting a quizzical look.

It’s explained that if he stays on his remarkable career pace of 98.448275 rushing yards per game and doesn’t miss a single contest in the next six-plus seasons, he will be in position to break Smith’s record in Week 4 of 2019.

Peterson looks up with a grin, then shrugs. He’s appreciative of the math but far from accepting of it.

He looks back down at the number, then taps the date.

"Sooner than that," he says. "For real. Sooner."

Are you going to be the one to tell Adrian Peterson he’s being overly ambitious? That his competitive drive is skewing reality? Or after witnessing him make good on so many promises this year, will you simply nod and trust that his word is as firm as his python-grip handshake?

"I’m not sure how fast I can get there," Peterson says. "I have to crunch some numbers myself. But I’ll do some research and get back to you with my date."

It’s little wonder Peterson was the runaway choice as the Star Tribune’s 2012 Sportsperson of the Year. He could have won the award based on contagious optimism alone.

After all, on Jan. 1 Peterson woke up in an Alabama hospital bed and pledged — as so many do when the calendar flips — to attack the new year with so much purpose and so little fear.

Yet unlike most of the world, he found rare mental reserves to sustain his drive.

When everyone else saw a career-threatening ACL injury, Peterson saw a challenge to come back stronger, quicker and more determined.

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