Unless you do not follow pro football or were in a coma,
you heard about the record-breaking performance Sunday by
the Minnesota Vikings’ rookie sensation.
Adrian Peterson set the single game rushing record in a
35-17 win against the San Diego Chargers Sunday. Peterson
rushed for 296 yards and three touchdowns, amassing an
unbelievable 9.9 average yard per carry.
Putting up average numbers in the first half, Peterson
broke loose with a 64-yard run on his second carry after the
break. He made two more long runs during the game, breaking
one for 46 and one for 35.
The game will go down as one of the greatest performances
in NFL history, and coming from a rookie makes it all the
This season Peterson leads the NFL with 1,036 rushing
yards, 332 yards more than second place Joseph Addai, and
eight rushing touchdowns, one touchdown ahead of two other
players. Stats like these beg the question, “How good is
As a frequent surfer of sports forums, blogs and
so-called “expert” sites, I’m tired of hearing Peterson’s
name brought up as the best running back in the league. I do
not deny the rookie’s talent. He has more in his pinky toe
than I had in my prime. I just cannot anoint a rookie as
being the best of anything other than the best rookie.
I hate the argument that a player must play X number of
years before he can be considered the best, but one season
does not make a career. In my 25 years, I’ve seen more than
two dozen “Next Great Things,” and less than a handful panned
Just two seasons ago, the so called “experts” named
Carnell “Cadillac” Williams the best back in the league when
he rushed for over 100 yards in each of his first three
games. He hushed the loud mouths, being held to under 30
yards his next four starts and sat out two of the next six
games due to injuries. He also fumbled twice in those four
games he played.
Although he finished his rookie season with a
1,178 yards and six touchdowns, his lackluster sophomore
campaign and suffering what could be a career-ending knee
injury this season solidified the fact that the “experts”
jumped the gun on Williams.
The year before Williams’ rookie season, “experts” said
fellow Buccaneer Michael Clayton was the next great receiver
after he caught 80 passes for 1,193 yards and seven
touchdowns as a rookie. The Bucs listed Clayton as its No. 3
wide out in 2007 and tried to shop him to another team
before the season started, but no team wanted him.
The list of should-have-been greats could go on for miles.
Peterson’s numbers are great, but when broken down he could
join their ranks.
Peterson put up over half his stats in two games this
season. In the San Diego and Chicago games he rushed
for 520 yards and six touchdowns combined. That means in the other
six games he ran average at best.
Also a stat that is as important to running backs as
scoring touchdowns and putting up yards is not fumbling the
football. Peterson is tied for the lead in fumbles by a
running back with three.
Having the single game rushing record as a rookie is
impressive, but to quote Boll Weevils' coach Gwaine Mathews,
“yards are the most overrated stat in football.”
In 1965 Gale Sayers broke the single-game touchdown record
as a rookie with six. To me, touchdowns are way more
important than yards.
And even if Peterson breaks the season record in yardage
this year, LaDainian Tomlinson's 31 touchdowns last season
trumps any yard record.
Although Peterson might be the biggest talent to come out
of the draft in quite sometime, until he puts up a string of
good years, I for one will never call him the best.