MANKATO, Minn. — Adrian Peterson heard the skepticism from people last year, even opposing players, as he returned from reconstructive knee surgery to challenge the NFL’s single-season rushing mark and win the MVP.
He heard the whispers that his recovery was owed to more than just genetics and hard work. He knew there were rumblings that maybe he wasn’t “clean.” He saw the Twitter page named “HghPeterson.”
But Peterson declared then, and continues to say it now, that he hasn’t taken performance-enhancing drugs and he fully supports new testing in the NFL that would track Human Growth Hormone.
This week the league and the players’ association announced plans to develop blood testing to track HGH, including an agreement by the players’ association in which players would donate blood samples during training camp this season for a test study.
“I like it,” Peterson said of the study. “I love it. To be honest with you, I’ve been hoping they did this a long time ago. You know, evening out the playing field and make guys be honest and truthful to themselves. So I can’t wait until they draw my blood.”
Peterson returned from that horrific knee injury when he was lying on the field in Washington after having the side of his knee turned inward on a direct hit to the joint from the helmet of Redskins safety De’Jon Gomes, tearing Peterson’s anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments.
Peterson, who ran for the second-highest, single-season rushing total of 2,097 yards last season while winning the MVP award, had surgery a week later and was soon on his way back, returning to the Vikings just over eight months from surgery. Peterson returned to practice late in training camp and was ready for the first game of the regular season, only missing one regular-season game because of the injury.
Peterson knew people questioned his comeback. But he didn’t respond to them and took the speculation as a compliment on his unprecedented return. He said he’s looking forward to the testing to prove to all the doubters that his recovery was all natural.
“It’s part of life,” Peterson said. “People are going to think one thing or another, no matter what you tell them. I don’t buy into it. I don’t listen to it. I just let them have their own ideas… I don’t really care, to be honest. Because I’m true to myself and I know I have a lot of respect for this game and the guys that came before and the guys that did it the right way and that’s what I’m all about. So either way it doesn’t matter to me.”
With increased scrutiny for PEDs, the league and the players’ association agreed to the new population study that would test for HGH. The players’ association sent an email to players this week outlining the plans for the new study.
Vikings defensive end Jared Allen is also a fan of the study, and said he hopes the NFL can be proactive and avoid the scrutiny that has come in Major League Baseball.
“Hopefully it won’t have an impact,” Allen said. “And hopefully if anybody is on them, they’ll stop using. You like to think that everybody is playing clean and that we have a pretty solid drug testing system now with steroids, being random like it is, that it would discourage that kind of use. I’m not naïve to say that there are probably people on them. But hopefully if they can figure it out and get the system worked out, then it would discourage anyone using performance-enhancing drugs.”
Peterson, however, does see a potential big impact when testing is done and players face discipline for testing positive for HGH.
“It will bring a lot of people to light,” Peterson said. “So I’m all in for it. I don’t worry about those types of supplements, using those, because I’m all natural. I work hard. This right here, it’s a test for me personally, that I know that, ‘Hey, I’m clean as a whistle,’ and other guys as well. And then, like I say, it’ll bring some guys to the forefront and be like, ‘Hey, I guess this is how this guy’s been performing so well.'”
Peterson believes testing will “level the playing field” and that thinks some players have tried using HGH because there is no testing currently in place.
“You’ve got HGH, something that doesn’t show up on a test, and you’ve got guys out there trying to provide for their families,” Peterson said. “They’re going to try to get that edge, get that advantage, especially if they’re not worried about trying to get caught. Yeah, it’s being used.”