Adrian Peterson is without a doubt one of the most talented athletes to ever step foot onto an NFL field, and he is most certainly a shoe-in for the Pro Football Hall of Fame once the time comes. However injuries and personal issues have plagued the last few years of his career, prompting his departure from the Minnesota Vikings.
Now that he’s with the New Orleans Saints, there is a lot of speculation as to whether he will be a good fit. The Saints run a notoriously pass-heavy offense under Drew Brees, who can throw for 5,000 yards in a season with his eyes closed.
On Tuesday’s Undisputed, former Viking and Hall of Fame wide receiver Cris Carter argued that the move was a downgrade for Peterson, as the Vikings and multiple other teams were either better overall teams or would’ve been a better natural fit for his talents.
— UNDISPUTED (@undisputed) April 25, 2017
Carter’s point that Peterson did himself a disservice in his 11th NFL season by playing for a sub-par program doesn’t exactly hold up. The Vikings were a below-average team for almost the entirety of the decade that AP played there, and for his part, Peterson has only played in five postseason games. His time in Minnesota made them relevant, not the other way around.
Another flaw in Carter’s argument is the assertion that Peterson is unarguably the only future Hall of Famer among the longtime veteran running backs in the NFL right now.
First of all, the bar for a running back to get into the Hall of Fame from this era of the NFL is going to be different than it has in the past. The evolution of the league has forced the position itself to evolve – which has all but eliminated the kind of players who were often the go-to option for offense. Peterson’s 97 rushing touchdowns are far and away the most by any other active running back, but that doesn’t mean that other backs aren’t producing at an adjusted Hall of Fame rate.
Frank Gore’s 13,065 career rushing yards are 8th all-time, ahead of numerous HOF-ers, including:
Now while rushing yards aren’t the only indicator of Hall of Fame worthiness, the fact that no one has ever run for that many yards and not reached Canton speaks for itself.
Then there’s LeSean McCoy, who in eight seasons has amassed an impressive 8,954 yards and 61 touchdowns. McCoy has remained relatively healthy since his sophomore season, which means that if he were to play in 48 more regular season games – let’s say 12 games per season for the next four years – McCoy is pace to rush for 12,627 yards and 86 career TDs. That would see him surpass Jim Brown for 10th all time in rushing yards, as it stands right now.
I’m not saying that either of those players are the kind of transcendent, unstoppable force that AP was in in his prime, but not all Hall of Famers are created equal. That’s certainly the only explanation for Joe Namath.