Adrian Peterson still hopes to catch Emmitt Smith’s rushing record

Washington Football Team v Detroit Lions
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He turns 36 next month. And he’s not yet ready to surrender his quest to catch Emmitt Smith for the NFL’s career rushing record.

Adrian Peterson reiterated his longstanding desire to (1) win a Super Bowl and (2) catch Smith’s record in recent remarks to

“I’m going to keep playing, trying to chase the championship and, God’s willing, within the process of doing that, I’m able to catch Emmitt and pass him,” Peterson said.

Peterson said the same thing in August, when he was on Washington’s roster. He was cut and landed with Detroit on a one-year deal.

Peterson has 14,820 rushing yards, putting him fifth on the all-time list. He’s 449 yards behind Hall of Famer Barry Sanders, and 1,180 behind Frank Gore, who has exactly 16,000 rushing yards. And Peterson is 3,535 behind Smith.

“I want to live to be a 40-year-old back out there rushing for 1,500 yards and amazing people still,” Peterson said.

He had 604 rushing yards in 2020 with Detroit, on 156 carries. The challenge for Peterson will be continuing to find opportunities to be on a team and, when on a team, enough carries to rack up enough yards to catch Smith.

If Peterson can play through the year in which he turns 40, he’d need to average 707 yards per season to catch Smith. It’s not clear which feat would be more impressive; playing through the year in which Peterson turns 40 or averaging that many yards per season at the ages of 36, 37, 38, 39, and 40.

Peterson has one thing working in his favor: The expected addition of a 17th regular-season game gives him five more total games through his self-imposed career deadline. Instead of averaging 44.2 rushing yards per game, he’d need only 41.5.

It’s impossible to bet against Peterson’s raw determination and will. But if he’s not on an NFL roster and/or not on the field and/or not getting carries, he’ll have a very hard time catching Emmitt Smith.

Peterson likely has a much better chance of getting his first career Super Bowl appearance and win. He already has said he’d like to join Tom Brady in Tampa Bay.

32 responses to “Adrian Peterson still hopes to catch Emmitt Smith’s rushing record

  1. The only one who is amazed still is himself. He was great but anyone who watched Detroit last year could tell he wasn’t the best back in that backfield. Patricia deserved to get fired for feeding him the ball as much as he did.

  2. As others will say, he needs the cash. Not much left in the tank. I dont believe he could even average 500 yds for 7 years let alone a couple 1000 yard seasons at this point.

  3. It is good to set high goals for oneself, but it is difficult to imagine AP improving his output in his late thirties to catch Emmitt.

  4. Just get Brady to sign you. If he can talk Arians into signing Antonio Brown, he can talk him into signing you.

  5. He is unlikely to get the 449 yards he needs to pass Barry – let alone the 3535 he needs to pass Emmitt.

  6. Yes, it’s good to have individual goals. But when your only goals are individual goals, you’re a distraction. If he was giving the choice to play 3 more yrs and win 3 Superbowls or play 2 yrs and go 4-12 both yrs but pass Emmitt Smith. You know he he would pick passing Emmitt.

    Will the HOF enshrine him first ballot after beating his kid and a yr long suspension? They made T.O. wait for far less of a reason.

  7. I frankly question if he will be able to find a team willing to sign him in 2021. There isn’t even much of a demand for young RBs that are not effective on 2nd or 3rd and long downs that require pass catching out of the backfield, let alone old ones.

  8. I’ll never understand it. MF and all the other purples have crazy fascinations with former Vikings. Let it go. AP is on his third team since the Vikings.

  9. Funny how some people think they know someone else well enough to judge what that other person values. The bottom line is so what, its their life, live yours. So, other people post on an article about a former Viking player and talk about MF fans. Now thats ironic, you might want to get a life.

  10. I don’t understand it when teams throw in the towel before the season even gets started, and signs guys like Peterson or Frank Gore. These old guys hang around just to break records, while hurting the team they’re on. Maybe teams like the Jets and Lions are desperate to sell tickets, and they think these big name guys are going to fool their fans. I’d be disgusted if I were a fan of one of those teams. They say some of these guys are good in the locker room. What for? To teach the youngsters to put yourself ahead of the team? Maybe the Jets had a great locker room last year. Maybe that’s why their star players want out.

  11. I still hope to win the lottery, and I have better odds then AP breaking the rushing record!

  12. hope he gets on a podcast and explains how he mismanaged his money, Hope things don’t go bad for him when he eventually retires. He’s got a lot of mouths to feed.

  13. zonedout100 says:
    February 15, 2021 at 4:51 pm
    Just get Brady to sign you. If he can talk Arians into signing Antonio Brown, he can talk him into signing you.


    AB is still in his prime. Peterson was washed up years ago

  14. IF Peterson had stayed injury free (2011 & 2016) and avoided the child abuse suspension (2014), just looking at his career avgs. up to that point he would have an additional 2k plus yards and definitely be in the conversation with Emmitt. That said he has zero chance of catching him now. He likely won’t catch Barry either, who is IMO the greatest of all time. Had he played as many years as Peterson it would be his record and so far out of the stratosphere that it would never be broken or even threatened. Props to Emmitt for staying healthy for all those years. Its his record and will stay his record, likely forever with the changing of the game from run first to pass first.

  15. Patrick Dakota says:
    February 16, 2021 at 10:05 am


    Agreed – Barry Sanders was the best of all time. Just an unreal talent who never had the support around him – imagine what he could’ve done on a good team.

  16. He needs the money. According to ESPN he is broke, which isn’t surprising. He has 7 kids (one passed away at 2) with 4 or 5 different mothers so he’s been paying a large amount of child support over the years. He just lost a lawsuit over a loan default from 2016 and owes over 8 million dollars on that. He was known to be a prolific spender, and he lost all of his endorsement deals after the child abuse charges. He’s going to play as long as someone will pay him.

  17. AP only has 130 more carries than Barry Sanders. His pace at Minnesota was incredible with just under 12,000 yards on about 2,650 carries. Had he not been placed on the NFL exempt list in 2014 he may well be well over 16,000 yards. I think AP has slowed considerably and as Shannon Sharp said to him when AP was talking about track and field running “You’re too big now”. Shannon hit the nail on the head. The youthful AP weighing in a 220 lbs is likely now closer to 230lbs today and it aint easy to beak loose a 230 lb running back for 75 yard touchdown. He may be still faster than Derrick Henry but so what when you used to run a 4.4 in the 40. Besides the RB position bores NFL coaches and GN’s as they always seem to find equivalent replacements to their superstar RB’s just ask 26 year old Todd Gurley.

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