One of the NFL's greatest running backs ever, Adrian Peterson, hasn't thrown in the towel on his football career, even at the age of 38 years old. Fifth all-time in rushing yards (14,918) and fourth all-time in rushing touchdowns (120), Peterson suited up in the 2021 season, playing three games for the Tennessee Titans and one game for the Seattle Seahawks. He totaled 98 rushing yards and two rushing scores on 98 carries. Even though contemporary Frank Gore, the third-leading rusher all-time (16,000 yards), retired after his age-37 season during which he ran for 653 yards and two rushing touchdowns on 187 carries with the New York Jets, Peterson is holding out hope he can get one last season in before calling it a career in 2024.
"Mentally, I haven't officially hung it up," Peterson said, via the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "We'll see what happens. My mindset is, if God's willing, maybe an opportunity presents itself and maybe it happens this season. I'll go from there. But [if] nothing happens this season, for sure, I will be hanging it up."
The four-time first-team All-Pro doesn't need to play a 16th season to cement his place as a future first-ballot Hall of Famer. Peterson earned NFL MVP and Offensive Player of the Year honors in 2012 when he became the seventh player in NFL history to run for more than 2,000 yards (2,097). He led the NFL in rushing yards two other times (2008, 2015).
The Texan and Oklahoma Sooners All-American was drafted seventh overall in 2007 by the Minnesota Vikings. He set franchise records for rushing yards (11,747) and rushing touchdowns (97) in 10 seasons as a Viking (2007-2016). He then became a journeyman, playing for six other teams: the Saints, Cardinals, Commanders, Lions, Titans, and Seahawks. The childhood Dallas Cowboys fan, who now lives in Houston, has reconciled with not breaking Hall of Fame Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith's all-time rushing yards mark of 18,355.
Peterson needs 352 rushing yards to top Hall of Famer Barry Sanders for fourth all-time, and he needs four rushing touchdowns to pass Hall of Famer Marcus Allen for third-all-time in that department.
[Emmitt Smith] set a standard there," Peterson said. "You see why it's been there for such a long time. I feel like I had the great opportunity to do it. Unfortunately, I experienced some hiccups throughout my career, injuries and things like that, just wasn't able to get there. So I think it'll stand for a long time. Maybe eventually someone will break it, but when you look at how the NFL is going now, it might not happen. How things are going in the NFL, it's gonna be hard for someone to really break a record. But I can tell you this: there's no other person to be holding that spot. Emmitt is a great guy. He inspired so many people, me growing up, being a Cowboys fan. So I got so much love for him."
After the Cowboys let go of former top-five pick Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas could use a short-yardage battering ram alongside Tony Pollard, Malik Davis and Deuce Vaughn. Maybe Peterson could be a training camp invite on the veteran minimum salary? All he wants is one team to give him one last ride.