Despite hitting 30 years old and missing nearly all of last season, Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings is still the NFL's best running back, according to Adrian Peterson. On Saturday, Peterson scoffed when asked if he thinks he's no longer the best back in the league.
"Come on now,'' Peterson told Chris Tomasson of The Pioneer Press. "No.''
The six-time Pro Bowler plummeted to No. 62 on NFL Network's list of the Top 100 Players of 2015, but not without reason.
After a child abuse scandal cut Peterson's season to just one game and 21 carries, many believed that he wouldn't even make the list, including Christopher Gates of SB Nation's Vikings blog, The Daily Norseman.
If you ask Peterson, the No. 62 ranking proves he's still at the top of his game (via The Pioneer Press):
"There's not too many players in general that miss a season and his peers vote him into the top 100,'' Peterson said. "You tell me if (LeSean) McCoy and other running backs (would) miss a season and you tell me if they would still be voted into the top 100?''
The biggest competitor for Peterson now after eight seasons in the NFL is Father Time. While sitting out almost an entire season will likely help his longevity, Peterson is 30 now and has more than 2,000 carries under his belt. Just 37 players in NFL history have eclipsed that mark and only 27 players have tallied more career rushing yardage than Peterson.
Accumulating big yardage at 30 or older is rare. Only four players have managed to finish a season with more than 1,500 rushing yards at the age of 30 or older. Tiki Barber and Walter Payton each accomplished the feat twice, while Corey Dillon and Curtis Martin both managed more than 1,600 yards and 12 total touchdowns in a season after turning 30.
All six seasons happened with more than 320 rushing attempts, a mark that Peterson has eclipsed just twice in his career. He led the NFL in rushing in each of those seasons and they are the only two years in which he posted more than 1,500 rushing yards.
Staying healthy will be the key for Peterson to return to his dominant form. He remains convinced that he's the NFL's best running back, and if he's close to where he's been in the past, he's probably right.
And if he's right, he won't stay at No. 62 for long.