MINNEAPOLIS — Adrian Peterson, 34, could be playing against his old team, the Minnesota Vikings, for the last time Thursday night at U.S. Bank Stadium.
The future Hall of Famer has been a starter on a bad 1-6 Washington Redskins team. Peterson, filling for starter Derrius Guice, has run for 307 rush yards and one touchdown on 83 attempts in six games. His longest run is 25 yards and he is averaging 3.7 yards per carry. Although time and the pounding of the NFL have surely diminished Peterson’s skills, it’s remarkable he is still productive at such an advanced age for a running back.
Peterson, who played for the Vikings from 2007-2016, has long talked about becoming the king of old-age ball carriers. Even when Peterson was with the Vikings, he speculated about being on the field at age 40. Then, during an NFL Network interview last December, he revisited the topic.
With one game remaining in the season his Redskins weren’t going to qualify for the playoffs but Peterson claimed to have “fresh legs” and was upbeat while answering questions. “My body feels great,” he said.
Toward the interview’s end Peterson was asked how many more years he might play in the NFL? “God willing, I am thinking about 40 years (old),” he said.
Peterson has also played for the Saints and Cardinals since leaving Minnesota. He loves to play football but money is likely a motivation, too. Multiple media sources last summer reported he had serious financial problems.
The Redskins lost 9-0 to the 49ers last Sunday with Peterson gaining 81 yards on 20 carries. Word from a source is Peterson was less effective in the second half, and that his third-quarter fumble, on the team’s best drive, was a turning point in the game. “He still runs hard, but seems to lack the breakaway quickness or agility of earlier times,” the source said via email.
In the competitive world of the NFL, teams are looking to the future as well as the present. Peterson has set records and made remarkable comebacks from injuries but playing to age 40 seems impossible. More likely is that all those Vikings fans who cheered for him so long will say goodbye Thursday evening.
Former Vikings quarterback Case Keenum, a featured part of the Redskins’ struggling offense, is expected to be the starter for Thursday night’s game in Minneapolis.
It will be interesting to watch the secondary tickets market for Saturday’s showdown game in Brookings between North Dakota State and South Dakota State. Monday StubHub.com was featuring tickets ranging in cost from $ 85.39 to $283.89.
The “coaching tree” is healthy: first-year NDSU head coach Matt Entz is 7-0 while Chris Klieman, the mentor he succeeded in Fargo, is 4-2 at Kansas State following a big win over TCU last Saturday. Klieman’s former boss with the Bison, ex-NDSU head coach Craig Bohl, is 5-2 at Wyoming.
Running back Zach Zenner, the former Eagan, Minn., and South Dakota State star, caught a pass for six yards and rushed for a single yard in his debut game for the Saints on Sunday.
Mike Mahlen of Verndale became the first Minnesota prep football coach to achieve 400 career wins when his team defeated Rothsay last week. Mahlen is the 18th active high school football coach in the country with 400 or more career wins. The national all-time high school career wins leader is John McKissick from Summerville High School (South Carolina), with a career record of 621-156-13.
With decades of experience as a sports reporter and columnist covering professional and college sports, Twin Cities-based sports columnist David Shama not only shares his perspectives, but he also quotes many of Minnesota’s biggest newsmakers among players, coaches and owners.