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Adrian Peterson says about his incredible ACL recovery, ‘I understand I put the bar high’

Frank Schwab
Shutdown Corner

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(USA Today Sports Images)

Before Adrian Peterson, taking a year to come back from ACL surgery was OK. Needing an extra year to return to normal off an ACL injury was standard. Again, that was before Peterson.

Now people just figure Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III will be back by the regular season. Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose becomes a punchline when he's not back on the basketball court in less than a year.

Look at Adrian Peterson – he's the best running back in the NFL, and he was back in nine months.

Peterson, the star running back for the Vikings, understands that his unprecedented recovery changed the game.

"I know with 'D. Rose' people are coming down on him, and all that comes with it, because I set the standard high," Peterson said during a phone interview, as part of a "Show Us Your EpiPens" campaign. "But not everybody’s body heals like mine, and you can’t jump to conclusions about anyone.

"People’s bodies don’t heal the same. That’s the main thing."

Peterson's recovery has reached almost mythical proportions because he claims he did it naturally. He has already emphatically denied using PEDs. And he says when doctors came to him with options that included the controversial stem cell therapy, he turned that down too. And after that, the idea of stem cell therapy (which is not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration) was never brought up to him again.

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Peterson after he injured his knee on Dec. 24, 2011 (USA Today Sports Images)

"After that, nobody said anything because they knew this is how I was doing it, and not to come to me with any experiments or anything like that," Peterson said. "I wanted to do it through hard work, and they knew I’m all in with it."

Other athletes have had the controversial stem cell therapy outside of the United States. Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning reportedly went to Germany for the stem cell therapy. Oakland A's pitcher Bartolo Colon is another athlete who has been linked to it.

In stem cell therapy, fat and/or bone marrow are drawn from the body, stem cells are separated out of the extracted fluid and re-injected into the injured area to help stimulate the re-growth of healthy tissue.

"I’ve heard it helps a lot, and I know guys who have tried it," Peterson said. "But after that day, I didn’t think about it again, like, ‘Maybe I should have done that.’ I was too focused on what I needed to do to be ready for that first regular-season game.

"My body has always been able to rebuild and recover fast. I learned that about my body through 28 years."

Peterson remembers exact details of how the play against the Redskins that he tore his ACL and MCL went down (when asked if he thought the play was dirty at all, in light of Miami tight end Dustin Keller's injury on a low hit, Peterson laughs and says no: "It was meant to happen," he says), probably because it started a hard period of rehab. The injury happened on Dec. 24, 2011. He had surgery six days later. On Sept. 9, 2012 he rushed for 84 yards and two touchdowns in his first game back, his first step towards winning the NFL MVP award.

He says that he knows how hard he worked to get back so quickly.

"Me setting the bar and the standard high, I know what it took," Peterson said. "I don’t know that many people who could push themselves to that level.

"I understand I put the bar high. I put in the work to accelerate it. I don’t know if too many guys can do what I did."

Peterson thinks Griffin could follow in his footsteps. He said he talked to the Washington quarterback once since Griffin tore his ACL, and he didn't sound too surprised Griffin was on track to follow in his footsteps and play in Week 1.

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"He has his mind right and he’s a hard worker," Peterson said. "If he uses the same mindset with this injury that he’s used for everything else, if he focuses with that same intensity, he’ll be fine."

Not only was Peterson dealing with coming back from a major knee injury during training camp last year, he suffered a serious health scare as well. He said after practice he had two bowls of gumbo, and suddenly his eyes were swelling and his throat was closing up. He called the Vikings trainer, and after he hung up his throat started closing up even more. He had never had an allergic reaction before. The trainer met him and gave him an EpiPen (which injects epinephrine to treat allergic reactions or anaphylactic shock) injection in his side.

"Immediately my throat started to ease up," Peterson said.

Since then he met with an allergist, who told Peterson – who said he grew up eating shellfish because it was his favorite food – he was allergic to scallops, lobster and shrimp.

Peterson is now getting the word out about EpiPens, in the "Show us your EpiPen" campaign. Mylan Specialty LP is donating $25 for every photo of people showing their EpiPen uploaded to 25YearsofEpiPen.com, up to $25,000.

"We're trying to get people to be more prepared if they suffer anaphylactic shock," Peterson said. "You have to keep it around just to be safe."

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