JAY DAVIS: Putting 10,000 in perspective

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In trying to put Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson’s feat of reaching the 10,000-yard mark into perspective, the only thing I could come up with is that it is Walter Payton-esque.

I am reminded of Walter Payton because of team similarity, not player likeness. For a lot of Payton’s career, he did just as Peterson has been doing the last two seasons, churned out yard after yard for an offense that did not have a valid passing attack. When a running back continually defeats eight, nine and 10 men in the box, those are some hard-earned yards.

Peterson reached the milestone in just his seventh year and 101st game. Only two running backs, Jim Brown and Eric Dickerson, have run that far faster. Brown did it in 98 games, Dickerson in 91.

At 10,057 yards, Peterson has a lot of rungs on the ladder to climb as he pursues Emmitt Smith and the all-time rushing record. Many running backs begin to peter out when they get to their seventh and eighth years. In fact there have been some great running backs that were already past their prime by then.

But Peterson, as we know, is a freak of nature. Last season he came off major knee surgery and had the second most yards ever in one season. But that is not all. He blew up team after team down the stretch while he a battling a sports hernia. After 12 games, Peterson again leads the league in rushing with 1,208 yards and has done it while fighting a hamstring injury, a groin injury and anemic quarterback play. He is on pace for more than 1,600 yards, which would move him past about four players and near the top 20 on the all-time rushing list. If his last four games are anything like his last four games last year, he might just make the top 20 at the end of his seventh season.

The yards and the accomplishments are all good and dandy, but the Vikings need to put a better team around All Day if his records are going to lead to any great team accomplishments. That’s another thing his career has in common with Payton’s. Walter came into the league in 1975 and it took the Bears until his 10th year to create a Super Bowl winner.

Let’s call this the season that puts Peterson just a bit past the halfway mark of his career and let’s say he finishes the year with 1,600 yards. He will still be more than 7,000 yards behind Smith’s all-time record of 18,355 yards.

Believe it or not, Peterson is gaining momentum as his career progresses. He was the fifth fastest to 5,000 yards and eighth fastest to 8,000 yards. That is quite a surge to becoming the third fastest to 10,000 yards.

Peterson is going to have to keep on being Peterson for quite a while to attain his career goals. And the Vikings are going to have to start putting some better players around him, and soon. Quarterback would be a good place to start.

Before I forget, when Peterson ran for 211 yards against the Bears on Sunday, he put himself in the record book a couple more times. It was the sixth time Peterson ran for more than 200 yards, tying him with O.J. Simpson. It was also the seventh time he rushed for more than 150 yards, which tied him with Earl Campbell.

More records will fall as Peterson’s ascent up the ladder continues, but it would be nice if his career started looking a lot more like Emmitt Smith’s. Super Bowl champion rings would look nice on him.

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