Photo credit: Minneapolis Star Tribune
For the time in his career Adrian Peterson will be playing for a different team. His first game with the New Orleans Saints will be against his former team the Minnesota Vikings.
Peterson was drafted seventh overall by the Vikings in 2007 out of Oklahoma. In his 10 seasons with the Vikings he was a seven-time Pro Bowler (2007-2010, 2012, 2013, 2015) and a four-time First-Team All-Pro (2008, 2009, 2012, 2015). He led the league in rushing three times, including 2012 when he rushed for 2,097 yards (nine yards short of the Eric Dickerson’s record in 1984). He had torn his ACL the year before. Peterson was also the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year and led the league in rushing touchdowns twice (2009, 2015).
He also rushed for an NFL record 296 yards in his rookie season against the San Diego Chargers. Earlier in the season he rushed for 224 yards against the Chicago Bears.
In 123 career games with the Vikings, he rushed for 11,747 yards and 97 touchdowns.
Peterson was very well-liked by Viking fans, but things began to change when he was charged with child abuse. Many fans chose to forgive him later, some though did not.
He was suspended for the final 15 games of the season and later felt that the organization did not do enough to support him.
Peterson returned to the Vikings and helped lead them to an 11-5 record and a division championship the next season. He rushed for 1,485 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Last season he only appeared in three games due to a torn meniscus. He rushed for 72 yards on 37 carries. The Vikings declined his $18 million option and signed Latavius Murray. They later drafted running back Dalvin Cook as well.
Peterson will without a doubt go down as one of the best players in Vikings history and one of the best running backs in NFL history. It won’t be long before he will be inducted into the Vikings Ring of Honor and also become a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
He struggled in some areas (picking up blitzes, receiving, fumbling in big moments at times), but his running ability was sensational. Defenses often stacked eight or nine men in the box and he still made them pay plenty of times.
The Vikings only won one playoff game (2009) during his 10 seasons with the team. During their last playoff appearance with them in 2015, he did have a key fumble in the game and in the 2009 NFC Championship Game he had two fumbles (both recovered by the Vikings). He also had a botched handoff with Brett Favre in the redzone. Peterson played a role in the turnover, but that was more so on Favre for putting the ball in the wrong spot.
Peterson did receive plenty of blame for that, but he still rushed for 122 yards and three touchdowns on 25 carries. The Vikings had five turnovers as a team and scored four touchdowns. Peterson despite his faults in that game played a huge role in the Vikings nearly winning that game and advancing to the Super Bowl.
He also carried the offense plenty of times during his tenure here. Outside of 2009 with Favre, the Vikings got very little production from the quarterback position. The hope was that Tarvaris Jackson and later Christian Ponder would be the long-term answer. That did not happen. In 2012 the Vikings went 10-6 and made the playoffs after going 3-13 the year before. Peterson’s historic season was without a doubt the main reason for that turnaround.