Adrian Peterson still hopes to catch Emmitt Smith’s rushing record

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Mike Florio
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He turns 36 next month. And he’s not yet ready to surrender his quest to catch Emmitt Smith for the NFL’s career rushing record.

Adrian Peterson reiterated his longstanding desire to (1) win a Super Bowl and (2) catch Smith’s record in recent remarks to TMZ.com.

“I’m going to keep playing, trying to chase the championship and, God’s willing, within the process of doing that, I’m able to catch Emmitt and pass him,” Peterson said.

Peterson said the same thing in August, when he was on Washington’s roster. He was cut and landed with Detroit on a one-year deal.

Peterson has 14,820 rushing yards, putting him fifth on the all-time list. He’s 449 yards behind Hall of Famer Barry Sanders, and 1,180 behind Frank Gore, who has exactly 16,000 rushing yards. And Peterson is 3,535 behind Smith.

“I want to live to be a 40-year-old back out there rushing for 1,500 yards and amazing people still,” Peterson said.

He had 604 rushing yards in 2020 with Detroit, on 156 carries. The challenge for Peterson will be continuing to find opportunities to be on a team and, when on a team, enough carries to rack up enough yards to catch Smith.

If Peterson can play through the year in which he turns 40, he’d need to average 707 yards per season to catch Smith. It’s not clear which feat would be more impressive; playing through the year in which Peterson turns 40 or averaging that many yards per season at the ages of 36, 37, 38, 39, and 40.

Peterson has one thing working in his favor: The expected addition of a 17th regular-season game gives him five more total games through his self-imposed career deadline. Instead of averaging 44.2 rushing yards per game, he’d need only 41.5.

It’s impossible to bet against Peterson’s raw determination and will. But if he’s not on an NFL roster and/or not on the field and/or not getting carries, he’ll have a very hard time catching Emmitt Smith.

Peterson likely has a much better chance of getting his first career Super Bowl appearance and win. He already has said he’d like to join Tom Brady in Tampa Bay.

Adrian Peterson still hopes to catch Emmitt Smith’s rushing record originally appeared on Pro Football Talk