A Conversation With Adrian Peterson
Sometimes, when we meet our heroes, we learn a simple truth; they are human beings just like everyone else. Sometimes we learn they aren’t the person we imagined them to be, and sometimes we realize they aren’t people to be looked up to at all.
However, after an hour-long sit down with former Chicago Bears running back, Adrian Peterson (A 2002 6th round selection from Georgia Southern), I walked away an even bigger fan of his than when he played for the Bears. Adrian’s story is an inspiration, he is a family man, a mentor and one of my all-time favorite Bears.
To be honest, I was nervous. Adrian was the first former Chicago Bear that I’ve had the chance to have an extended conversation with. He also happened to be one of my favorite players. Throughout his career, AP gained a reputation as being the guy who would do whatever coaches asked of him, to the best of his ability.
I am sure he had to be frustrated at times; Peterson was one of the most prolific running backs college football has ever seen. He amassed 9,145 yards (including the playoffs) rushing over FOUR years. Yes, you read that correctly. Dude rushed for OVER 9,000 yards in four years (I read off the wrong number on the podcast. Sorry, AP). He also averaged over 4.1 yards per carry in the NFL despite being drafted in the 6th round. Later in his career, after collecting 930 yards from scrimmage in 2007, he was relegated to just 20 carries in 2008. Time and time again, Adrian asked his coaches how he could contribute and relished his time on special teams.
In 2006 (a very special year for the Chicago Bears), AP was an incredibly valuable special-teamer. If you go back and watch THE return, Devin Hester’s kick return for a touchdown in the Super Bowl, you will see that the first block was by my guy, No. 29, Adrian Peterson. AP talked in our interview about how he knew as soon as he made his man hook around him, instead of cutting in front of him, that Hester would take care of the rest. As Bears fans, we sometimes forget that it wasn’t just Devin Hester making the incredible returns, it was the 10 other guys who worked tirelessly blocking for him. My father had a phrase that has become embedded in my brain, “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.” Adrian lived this every day as a Chicago Bear.
Adrian has a speech impediment, and has dealt with it since he was a child. I can’t imagine how tough this was for him growing up. Kids can be mean, I know. I was bullied quite a bit in the early parts of my life, and during our conversation I found myself cheering for him all over again. Like most of us, I like watching people triumph over adversity. I know that he struggled throughout his early life and even took speech therapy classes at Northwestern after he was drafted by the Bears. Adrian has been a mentor to others who have struggled with a speech impediment; what an amazing example he has set.
Throughout our conversations before and during the interview, AP talked endlessly about spending time with his kids. Even as a player, he talked about getting home early after practice to see his children. It’s so clear that Adrian loves being a father. When he offered me some fatherly advice (I have a three-month old at home), I made sure to pay close attention. I promise AP, I will soak it up as best I can.
My interview with Adrian Peterson was a big moment for me, and I am so thankful for the opportunity to be re-inspired by his story. Thanks AP.
As always folks,