Only three men have owned the NFL’s all-time rushing record in the last half century, with Jim Brown retiring as the record holder in 1965, Water Payton breaking Brown’s record in 1984 and Emmitt Smith breaking Payton’s record in 2002.
Brown thinks Adrian Peterson may be the next in line.
“If he wants that and he dedicates himself and he has good fortune, that’s a great possibility,” Brown told Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press. “I think if he sets his goals and he understands his circumstances and he knows what it takes, that he can be successful. I’m not saying that he will break the record, I’m just saying it’s a possibility.”
Brown recently said he doesn’t see many great runners in today’s NFL, but he does see one great one in Peterson.
“He’s a great football player,” Brown said of Peterson. “He’s always been a real fine gentleman and a great worker. His running style and the effort he puts in is unbelievable. I have the greatest respect for him. . . . I like his attitude as a runner. I like the fact that God gave him a body that’s big enough and he’s fast enough.”
Realistically, it’s tough to see Peterson breaking Smith’s record. At age 29, Peterson has 10,115 yards so far in his career, which means he would need another 8,220 to become the all-time record holder. Peterson has averaged 1,445 yards a year so far in his NFL career, and he’d have to keep that pace up until he’s 34 years old to top Smith. Peterson will have to stay healthy, stay productive and stay motivated to have any hope of joining Brown, Payton and Smith as an owner of one of the great records in NFL history.