Because Emmitt Smith's rushing record isn't as old as Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak, Wilt Chamberlain's 100-point game or Cy Young's 511 wins, it doesn't get on many "unbreakable record" lists.
It should be. Of all the records broken in sports the past few decades, Smith's career rushing record might be as untouchable as it gets.
Adrian Peterson's prediction that he'll break Smith's record of 18,355 yards is great, but it's not happening.
Peterson predicted he'll break the record in Week 16 of 2017. Obviously that is a long, long way off, especially in NFL years. To reach that goal, he'll need to average more than 1,900 yards a season. The NFL has been in business more than 90 years, and only eight times has a player reached 1,900 yards in a season.
If Peterson keeps up his current pace, the Star Tribune points out he'll catch Smith in Week 4 of 2019. That's assuming he can keep up this incredible pace for more than six seasons, and the odds are obviously against that. Peterson will be 34 years old during the 2019 season. There have been three 1,000-yard seasons by players 34 years or older, and two belong to John Riggins. Peterson keeping up his 99.4-yard per game average (1,590 yards per season at that pace) for six more seasons is just not going to happen. Only five times in NFL history has a 30-year-old back reached 1,590 yards in a season.
None of this is a knock on Peterson, it just shows how great Smith was. If Peterson retired today he should make the Pro Football Hall of Fame, longevity or not. He's one of the best that has ever played. And at 8,849 yards, he's not even halfway to Smith's record at age 28. Steven Jackson is the only active player ahead of Peterson, and his 10,135 career yards is still more than 8,000 away.
Breaking Smith's record would require an insane combination of production and longevity (consider that nine straight 2,000-yard seasons wouldn't be enough), as well as the unlikelihood of someone doing it in a pass-happy league.
Peterson is great, and his chutzpah on setting a date to break Smith's record is commendable and fun. But he's not going to get there. Nobody is. Smith can sleep pretty well knowing he'll never see his record topped.
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