Adrian Peterson: Players make universities money, should be paid

With athletes at Northwestern challenging the current system and trying to unionize for more benefits, the topic of paying college athletes has been re-ignited. NFL star Adrian Peterson believes college athletes should, in fact, earn money.

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Adrian Peterson was the top high school football recruit in the nation in 2004 out of Palestine, Texas and he made the decision to leave his home state and play collegiately at Oklahoma.

He lived up to his five-star status for the Sooners by rushing for an NCAA freshman record 1,925 yards and finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting. Injuries felled him the next two seasons before he made the jump to the NFL as the second all-time leading rusher in Oklahoma school history, just 73 yards shy of Billy Sims.

Peterson’s reward was a scholarship, and eventually the No. 7 overall pick in the 2007 draft. The financial windfall for his accomplishments had to wait until he was in the NFL, and Peterson has become the highest paid running back in the league.

But he believes he should have been earning a living earlier.

"I feel like they deserve to," Peterson said Wednesday when asked if college athletes should be paid.

With athletes at Northwestern challenging the current system and trying to unionize for more benefits, the topic of paying college athletes has been re-ignited.

Peterson saw it first hand as a star for the Sooners. The native Texan also watched what 2012 Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel did for Texas A&M.

"Guys work extremely hard to get to college, to get that full scholarship at a university and then once you get to a university you see guys, for example Johnny Manziel, I can use myself too, when I was in college, I know personally as far as jersey sales and ticket sales, I helped make that university a lot of money," Peterson said. "Johnny Manziel helped Texas A&M make so much money. You’re talking about championship games he was able to lead those guys to. You’re talking about jersey sales that he don’t see a dime of. And in the meantime, you’ve got a guy that possibly could be struggling to live outside of college."

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That’s particularly where Peterson’s own experience comes into play.

"I came in at a time when my first daughter was being born, it was just a responsibility that I had outside of playing football and going to class," Peterson said. "I feel like as much money as universities make, I feel like some of that money should be divvied down to the players as well because potentially we are the ones making this university money. Like these bowl games, without the players how much money do they make? None. You know? Without the players, how much money do they make?"

Peterson also took issue Wednesday with the NBA’s age requirements and the rule stipulating players have to play one season of college basketball. New NBA commissioner Adam Silver has expressed a desire to change the rule to require players to spend two years in college.

Peterson has heard about the possible change and doesn’t like it.

"I hear they’re trying to make basketball players go two years to college," Peterson said. "Wow, I wonder why? Just think about it, imagine if LeBron James would have had to go to college for two years. How much money would that college have made off LeBron James? They would have made so much money off of LeBron James. So I feel like that’s the reason they’re doing it, and I understand it’s education, it’s a lot of guys that come out of high school and go to the draft and they don’t end up making it.

"It’s a freedom. It’s based on freedom and you have to do what you want and make your own decisions. So I really feel like athletes should get paid as well. The universities are definitely getting paid."

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