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Adrian Peterson on Vikings' playoff chances, offseason plans and his future

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Do the Vikings have a chance vs. Seahawks? (2:09)

Michael Smith and Jemele Hill preview the NFC wild-card matchup between the Seahawks and Vikings. (2:09)

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Before the Minnesota Vikings face the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, running back Adrian Peterson sat down with ESPN.com to talk about the Vikings being back in the playoffs for the first time since 2012, his successful comeback in 2015 and why he believes his career would be incomplete without a Super Bowl ring, no matter how many yards he accumulates.

For the three of you guys who were around for the NFC title game loss to the New Orleans Saints in 2009 -- you, Brian Robison and Chad Greenway -- how much does that game still stick in the back of your minds?

Adrian Peterson: I can't speak for the other guys, but any time you’re one game away from going to the Super Bowl, and you lose in that fashion -- when you know you were the better team -- it haunts you. It’s something that, now, since it was so long ago, it’s not right there at the top of your brain, but it’s always got a spot there in the back.

Is it surprising to you that you've been back to the playoffs only once since that game?

AP: It is -- it’s very surprising. You can kind of take things for granted. That was a spectacular year we had. We had some great talent. To assume this would be our first trip back -- (in 2012) I don’t know if you can even count that one -- I never would have thought that. That’s something that, as veteran guys, we want to make sure we preach to these young guys: Make sure you take advantage of these opportunities, because they’re slim to none. We’ve got some rookies coming in that get to taste the playoffs. We’ve got guys that have been in the league 10 years that haven’t played in a playoff game. We’ve been harping on that this week.

When you're young -- I think you were in your third season that year -- is it easy to take it for granted, like you think, "Oh, we'll be back next year?"

AP: It is. It definitely is easy to take for granted, especially when you know you have a good team, and you’re surrounded by good players. For whatever reason, if it doesn’t work out, or you miss it by a game, it’s kind of easy to take it for granted. That’s why, now, as a veteran, having those experiences, I’m talking to these young guys, so they know how sweet this is.

What are you most proud of about this season?

AP: Just being able to accomplish our goals as a team. I remember sitting in our meeting room in training camp, talking about winning the NFC North, positioning ourselves to have a chance for a championship run. That’s a thing that I’m proud of. Earlier today, I was kind of thinking back on that. Training camp, that’s when you get the feel of everything -- the season’s coming -- setting those goals and being able to accomplish that.

Was there a point before this season -- either in training camp or at the start of the year -- where you had any doubts about whether you'd be as productive as you'd been before?

AP: Not really. I had confidence in my ability, how hard I had worked during the offseason. The guys I was going to be out there on the field with, I knew that was going to make it easier on me, as well. The first couple weeks, I felt good, and I looked good, but when I watched film, I wasn’t where I wanted to be. And I feel like, still with that, I was better than all the rest of the running backs. But I saw there were things I could still improve on.

Do you think your top-end speed is the same as it was two or three years ago?

AP: Yeah, I think so. I haven’t really had too many opportunities this year to break through and put it on display. The one in Oakland, that was kind of one of my opportunities. But it’s still there.

What's the fastest you've ever been clocked?

AP: I think like 21.6, 21.7 (mph) or something like that. Track, the 100 (meter dash) is 10.26, and 20.85 (in the 200). Those are my PRs. In the 100 -- you can look this up -- as a junior in high school, (it was) 10.33 (in the 100), and 21.2 (in the 200) in the state track meet in Texas.

What does this offense need to become elite?

AP: Just continue to run the ball well. Number one, I would say, ‘Be physical.’ Continue to run the ball well, and be able to pass the ball. I feel like we’re balanced as an offense. We have the tools and the people in the right position to be able to accomplish anything.

If that balance comes from throwing the ball more often and developing the passing game, could that mean fewer carries for you?

AP: I think the balance comes in guys being efficient and making plays -- everybody just doing their job. That’s pretty much what it comes down to in my mind.

Now that you're 30 -- I know you've said it's just a number -- but if you plan to keep producing at this rate until you're 34 or 35, is there anything you have to change about how you train or recover in the offseason?

AP: I feel like I don’t have to do anything new. I haven’t felt like, ‘Now that I’m 30, I need to do more conditioning, this and that.’ Just go out, and whatever I do, put my best foot forward, when it comes to my training and conditioning and taking care of the body and things like that. That’s what I did this offseason. It worked out pretty good. I’ll stick to that -- do better than I did last offseason, as far as working out, and see what the results are.

Are you a guy who's tried out hyperbaric chambers for recovery at all?

AP: Not really; I haven’t really been into that. I actually just got one like two weeks ago from Sidney Rice, he sent it to me. But he forgot the most importance piece -- the oxygen (hood) that goes with it. But I think I’m going to try those things. It’s all part of, your body’s an investment. If those things can help with recovery, and things like that, I’m all into it.

Let's say you break Emmitt Smith's all-time rushing record, but you retire without a Super Bowl title, and you're remembered as the greatest never to win a Super Bowl. How would that sit with you?

AP: It wouldn’t sit well. Any sport that you play, you want to get that gold medal, you want to win that basketball title, the World Series, you want to win. It’s all about winning a championship, any sport you play. It’s not about going out there and breaking every record, and you’re happy and you can settle with that. It would definitely be unfulfilling.

Now let's say you win a Super Bowl or two, but you fall short of Emmitt's record. What do you think of that?

AP: I can ride off in paradise. Once I got that ring, having those memories, something to show my kids and my grandkids, and accomplishing that ultimate goal. Since I was 7 years old, I dreamed about playing in the NFL and winning a championship. I didn’t dream about Emmitt Smith’s record until I got older and I was able to see records and different milestones I could surpass. At that age, I was thinking about winning a championship.

Do you think playing as well as you have this season has brought your relationship with the fans back to where it used to be?

AP: I really don’t think about it or really care, to be honest with you. Not to sound rude or anything like that, but I don’t know what people think. I’ve lived my life really focusing on my lane and my inner circle, trying to accomplish the things I want to accomplish in life, and not worry about what the next person thinks about you. At the end of the day, shoot, Jesus was hated by many. It’s like, ‘Who am I to (worry about if I) get persecuted or have someone not think highly of me?'

Now that you've had a year to work with Mike Zimmer, what kind of an impact has he had on you as a player and a man?

AP: He’s had a big impact. He’s a guy I look at and say, ‘He’s loyal.’ He’s someone I feel like really has my back. The way that I’m built, that right there means the world. That’s better than any money or anything. To have someone you know truly cares about you, cares about your well-being and wants to see you successful, it doesn’t get any greater than that.

Whenever you guys are done playing, are you looking forward to having a normal offseason?

AP: This offseason, it’ll be good to get back into the swing of things. Obviously, I wasn’t able to do that last year in the offseason. It’ll be normal, to get back and be around the family, take a couple trips out of the country, work out, relax and get ready to do this thing again.

What trips do you have planned?

AP: Still haven’t had the opportunity to go on a honeymoon (with wife Ashley), so we’re going to go to Italy for sure. We’ll go on one of these trips with the Starkey Hearing Foundation, pick one of those.

What would it take for you to finish your career here?

AP: Just love and support. That covers a multitude of things.

You'll have a de-escalator clause kick into your contract after coming up short of 1,550 yards this year. I know you have an opportunity to earn that $1 million back next year; is that something that motivates you? Do you look at it as another chance to prove yourself?

AP: Not really. I think I can accomplish anything, so (there are) different things I set out and want to accomplish. But my main goal is to help my team win. There’s been ample opportunities this year, where I sat on the sideline for a full quarter, when I could have been focused on other things. But I’m focused on taking care of the body, and making sure I’m ready to go for next week. So when you write this, make sure you write those things: sitting out mid-third quarter or mid-fourth quarter, sitting out a third or fourth quarter. I’m worried about making sure my body’s ready so we can win a championship.