“On His Own Merit”

Saturday was a tough day for Vikings fans everywhere. Despite getting a win over the Washington Redskins, about the worst possible thing that could have happened to this team happened. As you all know, Adrian Peterson, our star running back, the pride of Minnesota, was injured on the first play of the second half. (Eric Sugarman, the Vikings Head Athletic Trainer officially announced today that Peterson tore both his ACL and MCL).

Instantly, I was furious. It’s hard for me to describe exactly how angry I was. As Peterson lay on the ground, kicking and screaming, I knew that singular hit could have derailed AP’s hall of fame talent – could have derailed any championship hopes we had in the immediate future. It’s strange, caring so much about someone you’ve never met in your life. But watching AP pour his heart and soul onto the field week after week kind of makes you feel like you know the guy somehow. You want nothing but the best for him. While he’s on the ground writhing, screaming in pain, your soul hurts with him. So, what’s the first thought you have after such a heartbreaking injury?

Someone’s got to pay.

Maybe I should just speak for myself here, though… That was my first thought. Immediately, I started proclaiming how much I was against Peterson playing after the high ankle sprain he suffered back in November. How could Frazier do this to us?! Haven’t us Vikings fans hurt enough this year? Hurt enough in general?! What did we do to so majorly piss off the football gods? Was it the whole Favre thing? Because, if so, most of us weren’t even down with that in the beginning… We’re sorry! We knew it was wrong… we were desperate!

Whatever the reason was, Christmas Eve was ruined. The game against the Redskins on December 24th, 2011 would go down as the worst Vikings Christmas game ever.

Well, since Saturday, I’ve calmed down quite a bit. We Vikings fans are pretty good with heartbreak. We tend to bounce back pretty quickly – optimistically looking for any positives in the most negative of situations. While I still stand by my initial stance of not putting our 100 million dollar running back into a [beyond] pointless game after his high ankle sprain, instead allowing us to see what we have in Gerhart and treat the final few games almost like preseason matches, I have come to accept this injury as just a part of football. Something that could take place any game – any Sunday.

But the real revelation I had (one I think we can all agree on here despite how polarizing this injury seemed to be): If anyone in the NFL, in the history of football, can bounce back from this devastating injury and return quicker, stronger and better than before, it’s Adrian Peterson.

In today’s Vikings presser, Eric Sugarman, the Head Athletic Trainer said, in regards to an expected time table for Adrian’s return, “We expect most people to recover from this injury in 8-9 months and instead of comparing Adrian to any other player at any level that has ever had an anterior cruciate ligament, and they happen every day, I really would like Adrian to stand on his own merit.”

Eight months today puts us at right about the start of the 2012 NFL football season and is an incredibly optimistic goal. It is a goal that even most above average NFL players would probably fall far from reaching. AP is no ‘above average’ player though – no, he is much, much more.

Peterson dazzles the NFL week after week; doing things that cause an instantaneous drop of the jaw. He has set the NFL record for most yards rushing in a single game (296) and consistently trucks anyone and everyone of the opposing defense, no matter who the team is. Peterson instills fear in defenders and coined the term “beast mode” (yeah, I’m looking at you Marshawn Lynch). His work ethic is rivaled by few in the NFL.

We are so incredibly lucky to have a talent like AP on this team. And I know, with everything inside of me, that if anyone can come back from this injury, better and stronger than ever, it is Adrian “All Day” Peterson.

There is no doubt in my mind that Peterson will be putting everything he’s got into being back with us next year. And, as Vikings fans, we just need to keep our faith in him and wish him a healthy, speedy recovery.

Get well Adrian!