Can Minnesota Vikings Running Back Adrian Peterson Break the All Time Rushing Record?


With the NFL becoming more and more pass dominant, what is the likelihood that we will see any back even flirt with Emmitt Smith’s all time rushing record?

Over the course of a fifteen-year career with the Cowboys and Cardinals, Emmitt Smith amassed 18,355 career-rushing yards, which still stands as the all time record. Towards the end of his career the league started trending towards the pass happy league it is today. As football fans we appreciate what past players have accomplished and celebrate their records. Although there are certainly records we want to see broken, some are attainable in the modern game, others may not be. Will Emmitt’s record ever be broken with the style of play of the league today? If so, who realistically has the best chance at doing so?

More from Minnesota Vikings News

In my opinion, the only back that has an outside chance at contending with the all time mark of 18,355 is Vikings running back Adrian Peterson. At 30 years old Adrian Peterson has accumulated 10,190 yards in eight seasons. Based on Peterson’s career stats, surprisingly he’s on pace to eclipse the all time record if he plays for the same fifteen seasons that Smith did. And that’s with only one start last season where he rushed for 75 yards.

The arguments to be made against Peterson breaking the record are legitimate. I make them all the time and have doubts myself. What is his production going to be like as a running back on the wrong side of 30? How much longer will Peterson actually play given the style of game he plays and beating his body has taken? Injuries are another concern; can he stay healthy and productive for another five to seven seasons?

There are also a few compelling arguments to make for Peterson. He’s a freak. Plain and simple. He is a generational back with a skill set the league hasn’t seen in some time. Vikings fans know very well that at any given time Peterson could bust loose for an 80-yard rush or crash and bang for 8 yards at a time. Physical ability aside, his stats are great. He hasn’t missed a whole ton of time due to injury, even though he’s had a couple major ones, and the 2,000-yard season doesn’t quite but almost cancels out his 75 yard total last season.

Dec 22, 2013; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (28) runs the ball in the first quarter of the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. Cincinnati Bengals beat the Minnesota Vikings by the score of 42-14. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowksi-USA TODAY Sports

Just for fun, let’s say Peterson plays for another five seasons. As it stands, he would need to rush for 1,633 a season for the next five to match Smith’s 18,355. It seems unlikely that he would be able to put up those kinds of numbers from 30-35. What if he plays seven more seasons? He would need 1,166 yards per season. That is more attainable considering his career average so far is 1,274 even with that wasted season in 2014. Can he actually play until he’s 37? We will have to wait and see.

The strongest indicator of whether or not All Day can break the record will be the 2015 season. We’re all incredibly anxious to see how he’s going to bounce back after last season’s off-field troubles and the turmoil that has surrounded his camp and the Vikings organization. All that seems to be behind both parties and the burning question now is how is ‘how is he going to play?’. Will he be distracted or disgruntled about still being a Viking or will he come out motivated, angry, and with something to prove to the rest of the league?

Unfortunately, for now, only time will tell what’s going to happen with Adrian Peterson and the all time record. And a question for a later date will be, if he does strongly contend with Smith’s record, what jersey is he wearing?

More from The Viking Age