After coming nine yards short of Eric Dickerson's single-season rushing record, Vikings running back Adrian Peterson wants to play on special teams on Saturday against the Green Bay Packers in a first-round playoff game if it will help his team win.
In an age of players who watch every move they make to make sure they do not jeopardize their careers or salaries (think of power hitters in baseball who will not bunt, or pitchers who will not throw more than 100 pitches), Adrian Peterson is just refreshing.
Peterson holds the record for rushing yards in a single game (296) barely missed breaking Dickerson's record only one year after tearing his ACL. Peterson volunteered to return kickoffs and block field goals against Green Bay this week because he simply to win. Peterson said:
For the past two years I've been trying to get in on field goal block. Come in off the edge, you know? It's just going to take one block for them to really be like, “OK, you know what? Let's take the chance and let you go out there and get it done.” Kickoff return, I wouldn't mind getting back there. I'm in it to win.
Although the Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier said he would not use Peterson this way, special teams coach Mike Priefer allowed he might use Peterson "in a crucial situation."
After Peterson just missed Dickerson’s record, he said:
Ultimately we got the ‘W.’ We said during the week, 'if it happens, it happens' Don't focus on it … I don't let awards identify me. I don't do it. I go out and define myself by what I do on the field. Whether I win it or not, and I'm not saying I don't want to, just like I wanted to break the record, either way, in my heart I'm the MVP. That's all that matters.
An athlete who puts the team winning first? Chip Hilton would be proud of him.