Adrian Peterson says he's considering retirement, quitting NFL to pursue Olympic dream
Adrian Peterson responded to Friday's ruling to uphold his indefinite suspension with an expected announcement — that he will sue the NFL — and an unexpected revelation: The former MVP says he's considering retiring to pursue his Olympic dreams as a sprinter.
"I've considered retiring from the NFL," Peterson told ESPN. "I still made $8 million this year. I've thought about getting back into the real estate (business in Texas) I'm already in. That's something I've been interested in, something I'm involved in. I've thought about getting back into that. I've thought about going after the Olympics — you only live once. It might be time for me to pursue that, as well.
"I love playing football, don't get me wrong, but this situation is deeper than that. For me, it's like, why should I continue to be a part of an organization or a business that handles players the way they do? Making money off the field anyway, why not continue to pursue that (Olympic) dream and pursue other dreams and hang up the cleats?"
Peterson said he's interested in running the 200 and 400 meters. He was a track and field standout in high school, following in the footsteps of his mom, a three-time Texas state champion sprinter, and Peterson's coach has said he believes Peterson could've been an Olympic star if he hadn't pursued football.
At 29, Peterson is approaching the age at which most running backs start to decline. But he says retiring at this point would be hard.
But remaining in the NFL might be even harder.
"I've seriously thought about this real hard. I continue to pray about it, but it's been something that has been heavy, heavy on my heart," he said. "Of course, I'd miss it. It's my first love. But the reason I would be walking away from it would be (if the next steps in the process) kind of solidify that hurt from these incidents. I would know that, hey, you're walking away not because you've given up. You're walking away because they're handling you all the way wrong in this situation. They're painting you out to be a guy that you're not."
Peterson said he saw his 4-year-old son, who's at the center of this controversy, for the first time in months last week, and it was a joyful reunion.
"He was running to me, and he jumped in my arms," Peterson said. "I know the counselor is thinking, 'This is not what I expected.' The kid jumped in my arms. He was rubbing my head, pulling me to go play with him."
Peterson said that despite the year out of the league, he'd be "a better player" next season, and despite the hard feelings, he could help the Vikings if he returned to Minnesota.
"I feel like in Minnesota, they have the talent to win a championship," he said. "Each week, I've watched these guys play their butts off. It hurts me to see my presence not there (to) help those guys. The only thing I can do is sit back and imagine the weight that would be lifted off Teddy (Bridgewater)'s back (if Peterson was out there). It'd be night and day. I'm able to sit back and watch, able to see the difference I make. I really don't look at myself in that light (very often), but I can really see how much I matter."
Peterson said he's felt support from the fans in Minnesota.
"I sit back and watch the games, see (No.) 28 jerseys out there," he said. "I've been back to Minnesota a couple times. From the moment I get on the plane in Houston, people ask for pictures, say, 'You got a raw deal.' People I see in Eden Prairie, it has all been positive. That's kind of reassuring. It makes me feel good as well. There's people in the organization that I know hands-down love me. I feel skeptical, of course, but that has been comforting."
But in the end, his decision about his career on the field may come down to the same thing that halted it: his life off the field.
"I've been able to do things like getting kids signed up for schools. My wife and I hosted Thanksgiving at our house. We plan on having everyone here for Christmas," he said. "I got to go to 'Dad and Donuts Day' with my daughter (Adeja). I'm able to be around her more, take her to school. That's a lot of the reason (he thinks about retiring); I'm able to spend the time. Once you get back and you're not playing for a season, you really get to see the things you're missing out on."