A 30th birthday is typically a depressing time in the life of an NFL running back. You’re unlikely to strike another big contract, teams view you as washed up, and – as history has shown – it’s doubtful you’ll ever produce the kind of numbers you once did again. NFL history books are filled with page after page of productive backs who, once they hit 30 or so, dropped off the face of the productivity planet.
Don’t tell that to Adrian Peterson, though. The Minnesota Vikings genetic freak turns 30 next month, but says any talk of an impending decline in his performance is nonsense.
“It is what is,” Peterson said of the thirties decline. “It doesn’t apply to me. I have a totally different mindset and mind frame, so I’ll just stay in my lane and let everybody else say what they have to say.”
So, just how long does Peterson think he can keep playing for? How does ten years sound?
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“Well, I was talking to Favre,” Peterson said. “Forty sounds like a good number.”
Obviously no one expects Peterson to actually play until he's forty. But, still, if there’s anyone who can buck the trend of backs slipping once they hit thirty, it’s Peterson. He’s a once in a generation physical specimen capable of running over a defensive lineman and sprinting past a cornerback for a touchdown on the same play.
Emmitt Smith stayed productive for the Cowboy’s into his early thirties, and I expect Peterson to do the same. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him still churning out a 1,000 yard season at age 34 or so. That’s not to say I think he'll catch Smith’s all-time rushing yards record, though. Peterson currently sits at 10,115 yards for his career. Smith’s record is 18,355 yards. In order for Peterson to break Smith’s mark, he’d have to average almost 1,400 yards per season for the next six years. As great as Adrian is, I don’t see that happening.