He wore white high tops, white jeans, a white T-shirt and an off-white winter cap. By the time visitors were allowed to enter the locker room on Sunday afternoon, his equipment bag was packed.
On what might have been his last meaningful day as a Viking, Adrian Peterson conferred with a team staffer, donned a furry coat that paid homage to the disco era and walked, alone, toward a back exit. He did not conduct interviews.
Minutes later, veteran linebacker Chad Greenway, who played with Peterson his entire career, would speak of savoring the little moments of what is likely Greenway’s last season. Peterson did not appear to be in the savoring mood.
This is the uncomfortable way so many renowned careers end in the land of Minnesota Nice. Kirby Puckett went blind, then had his scandalous private life exposed. Kevin Garnett got traded, came back, then left in a huff without even a farewell ceremony. Clem Haskins became beloved before being accurately blamed.
Peterson will turn 32 in March. He has missed most of two of the past three seasons.
He averaged 1.9 yards per carry this year. He is due to make $18 million next season, probably more than three times what he would be worth on the open market.
His current working relationship with his sole NFL employer was revealed by his willingness to break the news of his return to the field with a business partner instead of through team channels, and by the parameters under which he said he would be willing to play.
Peterson succumbing physically to the beatings he welcomed on the field is not surprising. What will make his likely departure typically Minnesotan is that he gave us reason not to mourn his absence, even for those inclined to celebrate his accomplishments.
He ranks as one of the best running backs of the past 20 years. But if he never gained another yard, he would end his career ranked 16th in NFL history, just ahead of Fred Taylor and Steven Jackson, two impressive but hardly legendary players.
Peterson would need to gain 993 yards next season to pass Tony Dorsett for ninth on the all-time list, and would need two strong seasons to have a chance to move into the top five.
He is hardly surging toward the all-time rushing title, which often was his stated goal.
What will complicate memories of his Vikings career even more is that he took a switch and flayed the skin off of his son, then acted as if he were the injured party when he was criticized.
Peterson is easily the best back in Vikings history, and until he picked up that switch he was viewed as a likeable, relatively approachable superstar.
That view couldn’t survive the past three years, and now Peterson will likely try to end his career with a team that gives him a chance to win a championship, if there is such a team that wants a banged-up 32-year-old running back.
Demonstrating how quickly prospects change for players of his age at his position, it is suddenly difficult to imagine many likely destinations for the future Hall of Famer.
Most NFL teams either already have a lead back or wouldn’t want a player who is not adept at pass-blocking and pass-catching.
With Doug Martin ineffective and suspended, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers might want a power runner to complement quarterback Jameis Winston and receiver Mike Evans. The Green Bay Packers could pull a reverse Favre and adopt an aging rival.
Even if a winning team signs him, Peterson has entered a period of unwelcomed reality.
He’ll have to take a major pay cut. He may have to accept a reduced role. He may never again be the player he was when he rushed for 1,485 yards in 2015, much less the player who rushed for 2,097 in 2012.
Adrian Peterson will most likely leave with hard feelings and without ceremony. Often, that’s the Minnesota way.