When I saw the quote "I'm juicing on the blood of Jesus" flash across my Twitter feed from NFL humor site Kissing Suzy Kolber, I assumed it was a tease for another one of its clever satirizations, creating an over-inflated egotistical caricature of the league's reigning MVP.
Clicking the link had me ready for hilarity, until I realized it was an actual direct quote Peterson used in a feature for Peter King's new football-centric TheMMQB.com. Sorry, KSK, Peterson outdid you at your own game.
In a feature called "10 Things I Think I Think," King's site asks current and former players to share 10 bite-sized nuggets of information about their careers, upcoming expectations and whatever else is on their minds. Peterson, it seems, has records on his mind. And Jesus.
From MMQB.com, via KSK:
I think the one thing I’ll always remember from the field last year happened in Detroit, early in the season. One of the linebackers came up to me—I don’t want to say who it was—and he said, “Adrian, what are you taking? What juice you using? I gotta get me some of that.” I said, “I’m juicing on the blood of Jesus. Faith is what got me to this point.” So the Lions came to Minnesota later in the season. That same linebacker came to me and said: “I appreciate you saying that. You opened my eyes.” That was pretty cool.
It seems Peterson thinks PED stands for (puts sunglasses on) performance-enhancing...deity. (I'll show myself out.)
The bold in that pull quote, by the way, was King's. Peterson—the leading rusher in the NFL by nearly 500 yards last season—told a player on a division rival that his somewhat-miraculous return to the field after a severe knee injury late in 2011 should be attributed to the fact he was—and yes, I'm repeating it for effect—"juicing on the blood of Jesus."
Incredibly, that may not have been the most outlandish thing Peterson wrote in his "10 things" column, but we'll get to the rest in a minute. Right now I want to bask in the glory of Jesus juice.
In the wake of the NFL announcing plans to test for the use of human growth hormone, some people openly speculated how that could impact a player like Peterson, who not only came back from injury much earlier than anticipated, but also managed to produce one of the greatest offensive seasons in NFL history.
Peterson has developed an extremely healthy way to handle any accusations he has used performance-enhancing drugs in his career: He thanks people.
Peterson told USA Today, "When you know you don't do it, and someone's saying you do, you're like, 'Wow. They think I'm on HGH? I'm doing that good? Well, hoo! Thank you, Jesus!' It's a compliment. I don't get mad about it at all."
For Peterson, it seems to have a lot to do with Jesus. He's probably not giving himself enough credit.
In truth, Peterson talks a lot about Jesus, but he certainly understands that excellence comes with hard work and determination, not blind faith.
One of the other things Peterson wrote in his "think" piece was that coming back after his surgery in 2012 and playing at such a high level was the real accomplishment last year, not coming ever-so-close to breaking the single-season rushing record.
Peterson fell just eight yards shy of tying Eric Dickerson's single-season record of 2,105 yards rushing, set in 1984. He is one of only seven players to ever rush for over 2,000 yards in a season, and his 2012 campaign for the Vikings ranks eighth all-time in single-season yards from scrimmage with more than 2,300 yards rushing and receiving.
Peterson accounted for 79.6 percent of the Vikings' total rushing yards last season, and his 2,314 yards from scrimmage were nearly 43 percent of the team's entire offensive output in 2012. Inexplicably, he thinks he can do more:
I think I’d by lying if I said I didn't want the all-time record for rushing in a season. I do. I will break it eventually. I’ll be able to get that, without a problem.
Come to think of it, maybe it's not that inexplicable. Peterson came within a first down of breaking the all-time record for rushing in a season, and frankly, he got off to a bit of a slow start in 2012.
To break Dickerson's record, Peterson, or any running back, would have to average 131.6 yards per game. Peterson didn't rush for 100 yards in a game until Week 4 last season—forever known as the Jesus Blood game from this point forward—and his next 100-yard rushing game didn't come until Week 7.
Through the first six games of 2012, Peterson averaged 83.2 yards per game. That would have led to a 1,300-yard season, which would have been amazing given his return from injury.
Something seemed to change in Week 7 for Peterson, as he produced just one game in the final 10 weeks of fewer than 100 yards rushing. His rushing average over the last 10 games of the season—oddly, the Vikings went just 6-4 in these games—was 159.8 yards per game.
If Peterson were somehow able to maintain that pace for an entire 16-game slate, he would rush for 2,557 yards, give or take a foot. That number is insane, considering the history of 2,000-yard rushers in the NFL, but now that Peterson is coming into the 2013 season fully healthy, the single-season record is surely within reach again.
Yet even that may not have been the brashest thing Peterson said (or thinks). He admitted that Emmitt Smith's career rushing record means something to him, and while Peterson wrote he's "not too focused on it," he did bring it up, suggesting, "if God’s willing, being around a great group of guys like this, I can capture that."
No, he probably can't, God willing or not.
Peterson has 8,849 yards rushing in his career. Heading into the 2013 season, he is 33rd all-time in rushing, nearly 10,000 yards behind Smith. The top three rushers in NFL history are Smith (18,355 yards), Walter Payton (16,726) and Barry Sanders (15,269). For Peterson to join that list of 15,000-yard rushers, he needs 6,151 more yards in his career.
Sure, if he has another few seasons like he had last year, Peterson can break every rushing record ever held, but the likelihood of that happening is, historically, slim.
Peterson is 28 years old and has suffered multiple injuries in his college and pro career. While he has been able to bounce back every time, eventually that has to take its toll. His career per-game average, buoyed by last year's stats, is 99.4 yards rushing. For Peterson to pass 15,000 yards, he will need to keep that average up for the next 62 games. That's nearly four seasons of not just staying healthy, but staying productive at a Hall of Fame-caliber level.
Even then, if Peterson is able to average nearly 100 yards per game every year for the next four seasons, he would still find himself more than 3,000 yards behind Smith's record.
Of the top 10 running backs in history (based on career yards), only Smith played for more than 13 seasons. By that logic, Peterson is likely in the middle stage of his career, which means he would have to average 1,358 yards per season—or 85 yards per game if he plays every game—for the next seven years to catch Smith.
When it's put that way, it doesn't seem so daunting for a guy who has come back from as much as Peterson. Maybe he can. Of course, it may just depend on how much Jesus Juice he has stored in the cooler.
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