We'd scoff if anyone other than Adrian Peterson were to say, as Adrian Peterson did this week, that he doesn't just want to break the single-season rushing record, he wants to obliterate it. Actually, the way he put it to Marshall Faulk on the NFL Network was:
"I want to make it the 2,500 club. … It's definitely out there. I feel like it's definitely attainable. ... Enjoy this last year because the record's going down, with ease."
With ease. Football likes to devour hubristic young men and shit them out crippled, demented, broken and spent. A phrase like "with ease" is basically daring fate to blow out his ACL again, or wrench his back, or break his arm, or scramble his noggin, or any of the other things that happen to football players during the course of a season. Peterson this year averaged 6.0 yards per carry, which is awesome. To establish a 2,500 Club, he'd need to average that across 16 games, at 26 carries a game. In 2012, he took that much punishment only three times. "With ease" is the kind of thing an asshole would say, unless the person who says it might, you know, actually do that.
Peterson didn't play the first half of 2012 at full strength. Hell, he may not have played any of 2012 at full strength. When he finished nine yards shy of Eric Dickerson's single-season rushing record, he was barely a year off a ligament repair that usually takes a year to come back from. The Vikings' Antoine Winfield told Sports Illustrated last month, "You can tell he's not 100 percent. He's not as explosive coming in and out of his cuts as I've seen him. That'll come." SI did the math and noticed Peterson's per-game averages this season: 83 per in the first four games, 111 per in the next four, 173 per in the next six. He had 199 in the finale on 34 carries, a career high.
The word we're looking for here is freak. Next season Dickerson is dust by Week 14.