It makes sense that Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was feeling pretty confident about his pending place in NFL history while attending Adrian Peterson Day celebrations in his hometown of Palestine, Texas, on Saturday.
Speaking to the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Peterson said he believes he has a chance to surpass Emmitt Smith as the league's all-time leading rusher despite being forced to sit out the entire 2014 season. Peterson, 30, told the newspaper he wants to play seven or eight more seasons.
"I don't think it's impossible,'' Peterson said. "A lot of things are still to come.... I look at things that anything is possible. [Smith] played 15 years. I'm going into year nine but I've only got eight on the body. That's a long-term goal [to break the record]."
There are doubts Peterson can make a serious attempt at Smith's record of 18,355 rushing yards in a career. Earlier this year, Smith's former backfield cohort, Daryl Johnston, said Peterson wouldn't be able to break the record after being limited to one game last season.
Peterson has 10,190 yards rushing. He would need to average 1,021 yards per season over the next eight years to break Smith's record (1,166 over seven seasons). So far, he's averaged 1,274 yards per season.
Smith averaged 1,224 yards per season over his 15-year career, playing until he was 35.
"I'm blessed with tremendous talent and recovery and everything, so I feel like I'll be able to play as long as I want," Peterson said. "I want to play seven more [years]. Eight. I really feel that I can be 38 out there and still be the best running back in the NFL."
Smith isn't the only Pro Football Hall of Famer in Peterson's sights. Peterson also wants to break former L.A. Rams running back Eric Dickerson's single-season record for yards rushing. He nearly surpassed the mark in 2012, falling nine yards short with his 2,097 yards. Peterson knows Dickerson isn't keen on seeing his record broken.
"He's always going to be a competitor, like anybody," Peterson said. "You don't want your record broke. But if it gets broke, then you're going to have respect for that person because you know what it takes to be able to accomplish that."
Peterson understands there are plenty of fans and pundits who doubt he can be a threat to Smith and Dickerson's records. Still, he is confident he'll be able to quiet his naysayers.
"There's doubt," Peterson said. "But in life you always get doubted. You ask my teammates and my coaches if I look the same and that's how you get your answer.
"People on Twitter and reporters can say [things], but the guys in the locker room, the coaches around me, ask what they think and you'll get a better answer than thousands or millions of people who don't know me or have never seen me or don't know anything about me."