Adrian Peterson is just 27 years old and has been in the NFL for only six seasons, but Hall of Fame running back Curtis Martin has seen enough to punch AP’s ticket to Canton.
As Peterson threatens to break Eric Dickerson‘s single-season rushing record, Martin can’t help but be amazed by what he’s witnessing from the Vikings running back. Martin, whose 14,101 career rushing yards ranks fourth in NFL history, thinks Peterson has more God-given ability than anyone he’s ever seen play running back.
“I’m talking in the history of the NFL, not just in this era,” Martin recently said of Peterson, according to Ron Borges of Pro Football Weekly. “I believe he’s that guy. Adrian Peterson is the type of talent that, even if his career ended with the injury last year, he’d make it into the Hall of Fame.”
Peterson, who enters Sunday’s season finale 207 yards shy of Dickerson’s single-season mark, has rushed for 8,650 yards in his six years in the NFL, which includes five seasons of more than 1,000 yards. In fact, he’s rushed for at 1,298 yards in those five seasons, and he likely would have reached a similar total last season had his season not been limited to 12 games because of a knee injury.
Peterson is averaging 126.5 yards per game through his first 15 contests this season, showing that not only is he fully healed, but he’s better than ever. Even if he doesn’t reach Dickerson’s mark, this year will go down as one of the most impressive seasons by a running back in NFL history.
“I don’t know any other back with his elusiveness combined with his speed, his power, with his durability,” Martin reportedly said. “He may not have the best career of any running back, but I think he’s probably the most talented there is.”
Not enough praise for you? Well, Martin is confident Peterson would be phenomenal during any time period, even comparing him to some of the league’s all-time greats.
“Adrian Peterson’s ability performs well in any era,” Martin said. “You can take it back to the 1930s. He can play in Jim Brown‘s era and he can play today. I didn’t watch Jim Brown, but I don’t think Jim Brown had his quickness and speed. Jim Brown in his era was exceptionally powerful. I’ll always think that Jim Brown and Barry Sanders were the greatest running backs ever, but I put Adrian Peterson in that category.”
Martin might be in the minority by already putting Peterson in that category. If Peterson keeps up his current pace, though, it’ll soon become more and more difficult to not mention him in the same breath as guys like Brown and Sanders.