Very interesting article.
Peterson's legacy threatened by losing
The best running back in the NFL stood in the solemn visitors’ locker room, his shoulders drooped, a sour look on his face, his team’s bleak future staring back at him.
This is a man who has been compared to Walter Payton, Tony Dorsett, Marshall Faulk. But so far in Peterson’s young career, there’s one huge difference: All those running backs won a Super Bowl, while Peterson has yet to make one.
In 1989, the Detroit Lions drafted in the first round an exciting running back from Oklahoma State named Barry Sanders. Sanders was fresh off a Heisman Trophy season that some called the greatest individual college performance of all time. He quickly became the toast of the NFL.
The Lions built their team around him, and Sanders was selected to the Pro Bowl in each of his 10 seasons. He ran for 5,674 yards in his first four seasons and scored 52 touchdowns. Yet the Lions’ record in Sanders’ first five seasons was 40-40.
Sanders’ team made the NFC Championship Game in his third season after finishing 12-4 in the regular season. The Lions lost, and, with a rotating cast of quarterbacks who ranged from Andre Ware to Don Majkowski, never made it back.
In 2007, the Vikings used their first-round pick on Peterson, an exciting running back from the University of Oklahoma who a couple years before nearly won the Heisman Trophy as a freshman. Peterson quickly became the toast of the NFL.
The Vikings built their team around him, and Peterson made the Pro Bowl his first four seasons. In those first four seasons, he ran for 5,782 yards, 108 yards more than Sanders, and scored the same number of touchdowns.
Yet the Vikings have started Peterson’s career barely above .500, at 36-32. They made the NFC Championship Game in Peterson’s third season after finishing 12-4 in the regular season. They lost, and they don’t seem headed back any time soon.
Their running styles, of course, are quite different.
But the career arcs of Sanders and Peterson are, to this point, remarkably similar.