Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson had a near-miraculous return to the NFL last season after suffering a torn ACL late in the 2011 season. Fantasy football players who weren’t scared off by Peterson’s injury were richly rewarded with Peterson’s finest season as a pro and he will be widely regarded as the top pick in 2013 fantasy drafts.
Peterson’s recovery process was recently covered in detail by Pete Prisco in a fabulous piece (yes, even though it is about a division rival) for CBS Sports. I recommend reading through the whole thing but there is one part in particular that may be of interest to Lions fans.
The nature of Peterson’s rapid recovery was sure to spark some murmurs of performance enhancing drugs. It did but it wasn’t confined to talk behind Peterson’s back. It also came up face-to-face on the field:
Peterson heard the talk himself, including during a game against the Lions, where he had this exchange:
Unnamed Lions linebacker: “Whatever you were juicing on, let me know. I need it.”
Peterson: “Man, it’s a lot of prayer. The juice of God.”
Peterson said the next time the two teams met, that player told him how what Peterson told him that day touched him.
“It was like turning a negative into a positive,” Peterson said. “To be honest with you, it makes me feel good when people say little stuff like that, and I’m sure it happens all the time. I guess I am performing that well that people think I’m juicing, that I am taking something. That really shows me how much God has blessed me to be able to come back and play the way I played. To me, it’s a compliment (the PED talk). I’ve always been an honest person. I never cheated the system. I am big on taking advantage of my natural abilities and applying work ethic to it to be able to climb the highest level. People make that decision to do that (PEDS), but I’m not that individual. I feel like I’d be cheating myself. And things I’ve accomplished would be void. That’s not what I am about.”
I’ll be honest, I’m not quite sure how to react to hearing a Lions player asking another player on the field about juicing. I don’t get the impression from the article that the question was in jest and it also doesn’t appear to be adversarial. At least the encounter had a positive effect on the unnamed Lions player.
Maybe it isn’t really a big deal but whatever the case, it is hard to not have a lot of respect for Peterson.