EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Adrian Peterson defied all expectations in his return from knee surgery last year, running for the second-most single-season rushing yards in NFL history with 2,097 on his way to the MVP award.
Now that Peterson has to overcome only a measly sports hernia surgery this offseason, he is maintaining his desire to not only break Eric Dickerson’s record of 2,105 rushing yards, set in 1984, but to reach 2,500.
“(The record) is not something I’m going to focus on early,” Peterson told Sports Illustrated’s Maggie Gray this week. “I’m going to let the chips fall where they may. I’ve got my bar set for 2,500. If I get close to that, the record’s shattered.”
Peterson has always fueled himself with lofty goals. When he tore the anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his left knee in a late December 2011 game in Washington, he vowed to return before the 2012 season opener. Few believed he could come back so early, but Peterson was in the starting lineup from Week 1 on and had perhaps the best season ever by an NFL running back.
He did all that despite starting somewhat slow, by his high standards. He surpassed 100 yards rushing just once in the first six weeks, then did it in nine of the final 10 games.
Peterson said at the time he was dealing with an abdominal injury, but he continued to play and fell just eight yards shy of Dickerson’s record. After the season, it was revealed that Peterson had surgery for a sports hernia, which he said dated back to mid-November.
Peterson, who signed the richest deal for a running back in NFL history prior to the 2011 season, wants a championship to go with the record he believes he will soon attain.
“But, ultimately, I want a couple rings,” Peterson told SI. “We’ve got to start at one, and we need to get that one this year.”