Adrian Peterson takes in AAU girl's hoops game, where some fans lobby for Cowboys

Adrian Peterson, back row in black shirt, poses with the girls of the AD Elite AAU team on Sunday.

THE WOODLANDS, Texas – One of the biggest remaining offseason storylines in the NFL unassumingly walked over to a small set of bleachers on Sunday afternoon and slid into a front-row seat. Huddled between some blissfully unaware basketball fans, Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson snuck a few hours of normalcy into months of drama and suspense.

Unbeknownst to most outside of the AAU girls basketball program that Peterson finances, he tucked into a gym complex on Sunday alongside hundreds of parents and fans. Arriving with his wife Ashley and uncle Chris Smith, Peterson had come to watch his AD Elite AAU team take on China's traveling prep squad, a nationally funded team that travels the globe while grooming players for the Chinese Olympic basketball system.

Sitting with his wife in the stands, Peterson obliged AAU players and kids who recognized him and asked to sit with him and take a photo. Parents occasionally stopped to conjure memories of Peterson's exploits at Palestine High School, a community of 18,000 nestled between Houston and Dallas. Others lobbied him to come home and play for the Dallas Cowboys, a suggestion that left Peterson offering only a polite smile and a thank you. It was clear from the interactions that Peterson's family is ready for his offseason NFL saga to be over. And while nobody offered specifics, an impending sense of relief suggested a conclusion is near.

When Yahoo Sports caught up with Peterson afterward, he wasn't talking about the NFL or his contract or what is looking like an amicable return to the Vikings in the coming weeks. Instead, Peterson was still beaming over his team, which shocked the Chinese team 55-54 in overtime. The win included a stunning end to regulation, in which AD Elite point guard Jaelyn Richard-Harris went the length of the court in five seconds and drained a 3-pointer to send the game into the extra period.

"That was exciting," Peterson said afterward. "It brings back memories. My dad sponsored an AAU basketball team when I was growing up – the East Texas Warriors. It was guys from different neighborhoods, different towns. We went to Washington D.C., Nevada, Disney World, Louisiana, you name it. We got to see a lot, and kind of explore outside of our world. You were taking kids from the inner city, small cities and opening the world up to them. I wanted to do the same thing, and kind of shine a light on these young women. I have a lot of sisters, seven total. And I like the way [the girls] play the game. They don't let up. They are aggressive. They give it everything."

"It inspires some girls who might otherwise not have that," added Ashley Peterson. "You have to keep your grades up to be on the team, and some of them might not do that otherwise. It pushes them. And it's great that it's a girl's team. There are a lot of the boys' teams [in AAU] that get funding to travel, and sometimes the girls get left by the wayside."

This is the fourth season Peterson has sponsored AD Elite, which has seen 19 girls go on to play college basketball from the previous three years. Multiple girls are being recruited from this season's team as well, including Richard-Harris, who is being eyed by teams in almost every Division I conference.

"What he's done means so much to these girls," said coach Steven Barber, who noted AD Elite has traveled as far as Austria to compete. "We had [a player] who lost her mother to cancer three years ago, and she was just a lost kid when I saw her out on the court. But being able to play on this team has been kind of therapy for her."

"It's all about what is possible," said program director Steven King. "These girls have some opportunities to see a lot and be part of something. And they have to show that they are willing to commit to what is expected. They have to have a 3.5 GPA to be on the team, and that's not just the summer. We have workouts year round, and to take part in those, they have to bring an [academic progress report] to show where they're at."

In a way, Peterson's thriving AAU team is an interesting microcosm of his offseason life in Texas. Most NFL fans know very little about this private part of his world. But it became a very big part of his public profile this offseason, and some of those roots were even more apparent during Sunday's game.

Despite entering the gym with a low profile, it didn't take long before fans and kids and parents had recognized him. Some left him alone, happy to take pictures or wave toward him from across the gym. Others approached him and talked to him the way you might talk to a mayor or congressman. And by the time he visited with his team and departed the building, he was followed by a crowd, many asking for autographs or urging a homecoming.

One man walked out beside him and said hello, making sure Peterson saw the giant star on his Cowboys T-shirt.

"I thought there was a chance I might see you today," the man said to Peterson.

"Yeah, and I see you just happened to wear that shirt today, too," Peterson said with a chuckle.

With that, Peterson and his family headed for the car. Even with the most anonymous intentions in mind, you can only escape the questions for so long. Peterson put his spotlight on his AAU Elite girls on Sunday. Now it swivels back into his direction, as the NFL world awaits his next move.