Ray Lewis suggests that Adrian Peterson could decide to retire early

Ray Lewis has made a prolific debut as a football analyst for ESPN. Want hype and hyperbole? He's your man.

Lewis, forced to work even after the dross that was "Monday Night Football," said on the network's post-game set that he thinks Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson might consider pulling a Barry Sanders and calling it a career early in his prime, per Larry Brown Sports, because the team is struggling.

“Me going out on that field tonight and me looking at Adrian Peterson’s eyes, it’s something that I want to bring up that I don’t want to see happen to this young kid. Because we saw it happen to a great one one time before, which was Barry Sanders,” Lewis said.

Never mind the fact that in mere months on the job Lewis has suggested that the Super Bowl blackout was no accident and also has thrown his former title-winning teammates lack leadership (without him there). As Joe Flacco so tidily summed up, much of what Lewis says doesn't make sense.

Was he going off inside information? Not likely. Lewis said he was going off the look in Peterson's eyes, which, what the heck would your eyes look like if you were Peterson and your quarterback threw 33 incompletions and the New York Giants dogpiled you on every play like you were a fraternity pledge during Hell Week?

More Lewis:

“If he keeps going down this road, he’s going to have to make a business decision just like Barry Sanders made a while ago. He plays the game with so much passion and so much love, and he plays it so hard … and to do him like that, to surround him with a team like that … I don’t like to see great people go through things like that."

Now, this is a little more interesting. But we have to consider Peterson here. This is a guy who returned from a serious knee injury early last season to threaten the all-time rushing mark. A man so singularly driven this year, he predicted a 2,500-yard season. And fair or not, Peterson returned to the Vikings almost immediately after hearing about the assault on his child.

The point is not to vilify Peterson here. He was backed almost universally amid that tragedy. The point is to suggest that he's not close to retiring, frustrations or not. The Vikings were 3-13 in 2011 — was Peterson mulling retirement then? Doubtful.

The Vikings were a playoff team a year ago, and fixing the quarterback position and a few spots on defense might have them right back in the picture in a year.

Peterson turns 29 in March, and Sanders left the game following his 31st birthday. As recently as July, Peterson stated his intention to break Emmitt Smith's career rushing record by the 2017 season.

But Lewis thinks that might be out of the picture now? Keep yappin', Ray. And Vikings fans, you now can step down from the ledge.

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Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter!

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