Athlon Goes One-on-One with the Game's Greatest Running Back
Nobody brings more excitement and passion to his job as an NFL player than Vikings running back Adrian Peterson. We caught up with AD — arguably the best offensive player in football — this offseason to talk about the game, his place in football's hierarchy, and his life-threatening food allergy.
Q. What are your goals this season as far as yards, TDs, etc.?
A. I always set a goal of 2,000 or 2,500 yards. I like to aim high, I am always competing against myself to be better. That’s what keeps me hungry. And a championship – that’s the most important goal because that’s for the entire team and all the fans.
Q. What's your best work-out tip for an average guy?
A. Regular conditioning is key for everyone and anyone. And when you’re pushing yourself, I’ve learned the value of taking care of your body in between workouts. Things like stretching, icing, massages, those things that help your body repair itself, can be overlooked, but the recovery is just as important as the workouts themselves.
Q. Do you get nervous before a game?
A. Nerves are energy — I try to focus my energy on getting pumped up. I’ve been playing football since I was seven and I still love suiting up for a game, the ritual of getting ready, and that adrenaline flow as you step onto the field. From the moment I get to the locker room to suit up, I’m focused on the game.
Q. Do you play fantasy football?
A. I don’t play, but if I did, I would probably draft Calvin Johnson or Peyton Manning – gotta give it to him, he’s one heck of a quarterback.
Q. What's been the toughest game loss you've ever had playing football?
A. That one is definitely the NFC Championship Game after the 2009 season. We felt like we had the team to do it and had a great chance to win the Super Bowl that year, but the Saints got us in overtime. That was a tough one to take.
Q. Do you play Madden NFL? If so, do you play as yourself?
A. I play a few games and Madden is definitely one of them. I play as the Vikes sometimes, sure, but I switch it up too.
Q. Do you believe in the Madden cover curse?
A. Nah. I’m just going to work hard and bring it every single day on the field. Same as always.
Q. Who's the best running back in the NFL — other than yourself?
A. My top five running backs in the league, not including me, are Marshawn Lynch, LeSean McCoy, Arian Foster, Jamaal Charles and Maurice Jones-Drew. There’s a lot of talent out there.
Q. Where do you think you rank among running backs all-time?
A. Number one. I feel I’m the best.
Q. What do you feel is the biggest problem facing the NFL today?
A. Right now there is so much discussion about things not related to the game on the field. We need to focus on the players and the game, and not have side issues pull the focus.
Q. What do you want to do after your NFL playing days are over?
A. That feels like a long way off. Right now I’m focused on football and what my goals are on the field this season. But that said … who knows, maybe one day you’ll see me on the big screen or as the next name in real estate.
Q. Do you want to retire in your prime like Barry Sanders or hang around as long as possible like Brett Favre?
A. I don’t like to look too far ahead but I believe that I can play at a high level for many more years. Maybe ask me again in a few years when I reach my prime.
Q. Should the NFL expand its schedule to more than 16 games?
A. Expanding the schedule isn’t about the sport or players, it’s about selling more advertising time. I think that the NFL needs to base its decisions on what is best for the players and the game.
Q. Who would you want to play Adrian Peterson in a movie?
A. Will Smith — when he pumps up, there’s a resemblance, right?
Q. Your discovery of your own food allergy sparked your involvement with a campaign to raise awareness about life-threatening allergic reactions (Ready2Go.com). What can you tell us about your allergy, and about the campaign?
A. I didn’t know that I had a life-threatening allergy until I experienced a life-threatening allergic reaction, called anaphylaxis, during training camp two years ago. After eating one of my favorite foods, seafood gumbo, my eyes started itching and my throat started to swell to the point that I was having trouble breathing. It was pretty scary because I didn’t know what was happening and I didn’t know what to do. Fortunately, when I called my athletic trainer, he recognized the symptoms of anaphylaxis and knew how to respond. He ran to my room with two EpiPen (epinephrine) Auto-Injectors and I administered one in my outer thigh. In the meantime, he called 911 so I could get emergency medical care. I’ve learned a lot of people are like I was – they don’t know how to respond to anaphylaxis. That’s why I’m partnering with Mylan Specialty on the Ready2Go campaign to encourage people to avoid their allergic triggers, know the signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis and be prepared to respond if it occurs. I am also encouraging those concerned about life-threatening allergies to talk to their doctor to determine if treatment is the right option for them. The fact is that life happens, and if you have a life-threatening allergy you have to be prepared.