Back on December 24th of last year, Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson destroyed his knee. Fast forward to Sunday and he is back and looking as powerful as ever as Minnesota registered its first win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. I am amazed.
In seven months, Peterson recovered from an injury that takes a year, especially for a running back and the style of running back that Peterson is. Maybe some people heal faster, maybe having access to the best of the best in rehabilitation is an immense factor; still I am amazed .
When I was 33, I destroyed my knee in a similar way; the dreaded ACL injury and it was complete. I will never forget trying to stand after the injury and the revolting, anxiety-enhancing feeling of the grinding,clicking, abrasive sensation of not having stability in a joint that was so stable before. It was as if my thigh bone and calf bone had no connection and were completely independent of each other.
After completely dedicating the off-season to trying to regain health, truth is, it was never the same. Now as impressive as the rehabilitation was, for me what was equal is his decision to play. You know that his agent, his advisers, his friends and his family told him to slow down. Made aware of the timeframe to come back early may be courageous but is it foolish?
You know Peterson could have told Vikings owner Ziggy Wolf 'Give me until mid-season and I will be ready'. You know Peterson could have told head coach Leslie Frazier, 'Let's just wait and if we have a playoff shot, I will come back'. Knowing that a football life span for a running back is the shortest of any position, no one would have questioned Peterson if he wanted to wait, but he didn't and it says a lot.
Often people become frustrated with athletes and entertainers. The money, fame and notoriety can create resentment, and it is natural and normal in its judgment and response. But to me, this is different and should be commended.
With Peterson, Christian Ponder has a chance for personal success; without, not as much. With Peterson, Percy Harvin has a chance to be an impact player; without, not as much. And with Peterson, head coach Leslie Frazier has a chance to improve on his 6-16 record as head coach of the the Vikings; without, not as much.
I do understand that if he was not medically cleared, Peterson would not be playing, but I also know that a choice was out there and he chose to play. If you have one ACL injury you can recover and play at a high level. If you have two on the same knee, it is very unlikely you will recover 100%. And if you have a third, well it's over. The reason is that the ACL ligament is the #1 ligament in the knee, in terms of thickness and stability. When it wears out, your leg wears out.
Sometimes you do need to put yourself before the team to preserve and create a football career, not just an experience. Other times, you need to put the benefits of the team ahead, as its value in association with you enhances all. And every now and then, there are grey areas where it is not crystal clear which direction to go.
Adrian Peterson had that type of decision and decided to play as soon as he could, taking a risk of durability. That should be recognized and complimented. Well done Adrian, stay healthy, you have earned it.