Vikings running back Adrian Peterson did some quick calculations this summer and came up with the tail end of the 2017 season as his bet for the time when he passes Emmitt Smith to become the NFL’s all-time leading rusher.
Peterson will be 32 at that point and the years between now and then tend to be ones where the accumulation of hits begin to take their toll on running backs and productivity starts to decline. That’s not a topic that Peterson wants to spend much time thinking about, so he’s put himself in a mindset to make sure that no doubts creep into his head because of the way the sand is running through the hourglass.
“I feel like me not realizing that helps me,” Peterson said, via Dan Wiederer of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. “Me not thinking about, ‘Well, my clock is starting to tick, getting older and older.’ That’s not doing nothing but hurting me. So I’m thinking in my mind that each year I’m getting younger. Any way I can look at it with the most positive view that’s going to help me, that’s the way I’m looking at it.”
While few would argue with the benefits of a positive mindset, there are physical realities to life as an NFL running back that should make it harder for Peterson to keep feeling like he’s living out a football version of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
Of course, there are also physical realities to returning from a torn ACL that should make it hard to run for 2,097 yards the next year. Peterson was able to put them aside in 2012 and that makes him as good a bet as any to navigate the aging process without too much difficulty.