Do you believe in miracles? Adrian Peterson’s performance this season is showing that the answer should be yes.
The story of Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson is nothing short of astonishing. Peterson tore his ACL last year on Christmas Eve against the Redskins in the final regular season game, and has defied all the odds against him returning for the 2012 season.
The injury Peterson suffered typically takes a full year to recover from because the knee takes time to heal and recover to full strength following surgery. With the injury occurring in late December, it was unlikely he’d be ready for the start of the season, and he certainly wasn’t anticipated to be back to full strength until next year. However in this case, everyone has now learned that the former #7 overall draft pick out of Oklahoma is not like most people.
After putting his trust in Dr. James Andrews to perform a successful surgery like many professional athletes do, Peterson attacked his rehab on a daily basis. Week by week he was impressing his coaching staff who were hopeful he would just be healthy for the season, let alone to be ready to play in week 1.
His rehabilitation brings to mind the classic sports movie “Brian Song.” In the movie, Brian Piccolo helps Gale Sayers recover from his leg injury over the off-season. Piccolo pushes Sayers to work out and run so that his leg becomes even stronger and ultimately helps him recover and succeed on the field the following season.
The difference between that story and Peterson’s story is that he didn’t have a Brian Picocolo to push him every day. Peterson, with the help of the Vikings training staff, pushed himself every day because he didn’t want to settle. Most players accept that when they suffer an ACL injury, they most likely will not be able to perform the same stop on a dime or juke moves that they were able to do before suffering the injury and certainly not for at least a full year.
With “All-Day” however, his mindset was that there was nothing anyone could say that would deter him from returning to the Vikings as the same player everyone knew before the injury… or better. Week 1 was always his goal and no ESPN analyst would stop him from accomplishing that.
He made it back by week 1 and he has not looked back since. With four games still remaining, Peterson already has 1,446 yards on the ground, which leads the league. His 6.2 yards per carry is a career high for him, and his 8 rushing touchdowns are impressive, given that he plays for a team which does not score a lot of points.
Peterson is on pace to break his career high in rushing from the 2008 season when he ran for 1,760 yards. He is currently on pace for over 1,900 yards, a feat no one thought would happen this season. In fact, 2,000 yards isn’t out of the question, as he has been on fire in the second half. He has averaged 157 yards per game in the last six games, all 100-yard-plus games, and if he continued that pace, he would finish with 2,077 yards which would be the second best in NFL history.
Due to the Vikings win-loss record, Peterson would not be the most attractive candidate for MVP, however by statistics alone and taking into account everything he has gone through to get back to top form following the injury, then he should be seriously taken into consideration. Certainly Comeback Player of the Year should be a walkover.
Adrian Peterson has hands down delivered one of the most impressive seasons ever coming back from a season where he tore his ACL.
The only people not happy to see his return, other than defenses in the NFC North who were hoping the injury would’ve slowed him down a little, has to be fantasy owners who passed on Peterson in fear that he would not return to the old form they once expected.
When asked if he hopes to inspire people on their outlook of recovering from a knee injury, Peterson told a reporter, “I hope that I inspire a lot of people. Just to change their mentality, I think that’s the biggest part. I understood that if I kept doing my therapy and kept working hard that it would be OK.”
When it’s all said and done, Adrian Peterson should be appreciated more now than ever around the league. His return from injury has emphasized what a special talent he is, and NFL fans should be grateful to watch him play. A running back like Peterson comes around once in a generation, combining his remarkable durability, the ability to run defenders over and the speed to run past everyone in the secondary.
Peterson is a rare breed and this season, he has put to rest any arguments about who the best running back in the league is right now.
By Billy Bonneau
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