METAIRIE, La. -- Adrian Peterson's mind started racing at all the possibilities.
If the future Hall of Fame running back could go back in time, he said he’d probably choose a “money position” like wide receiver or defensive end -- or a money sport like baseball or basketball.
Even knowing how much glitz and glamour he has achieved in his 11-year career, including a 2,000-yard rushing season, the NFL MVP award in 2012 and the fact that he is just 500 rushing yards shy of passing Jim Brown for 10th place in league history?
“Even knowing that,” Peterson said. “Because I’d be out wide and trying to pass Jerry Rice and all those guys.”
Peterson got to chatting on the subject and had some fun with the “what if” possibilities when we were talking recently about his 6-year-old son, Adrian Jr., who is playing flag football on the same team as New Orleans Saints teammate Drew Brees' son.
Peterson said he’s “trying to get running back out of his mind” and would rather have his son become a quarterback, receiver, pass-rusher, safety or cornerback. Peterson said that would be his advice for any young football player, both because running backs don’t make as much money as those other positions and because of the pounding they take.
“It’s not a smart business plan [to be a running back],” Peterson cracked. “Early in my career, I was able to get some pretty good deals. But for the mass, when you think about the running back position and how many guys are getting paid like this, then you think about the receivers, you see guys all over. So it’s more guys, more opportunity for guys to make money.”
Peterson, 32, admits he never thought about those types of things when the glamour position of running back grabbed him at a young age. His favorite player was actually Deion Sanders, but he also loved watching Barry Sanders, Terrell Davis, Eddie George and others.
But Peterson is confident he could have thrived elsewhere at 6-foot-1, 220 pounds, with a tremendous combination of strength and speed.
Receiver would have been an obvious choice. But Peterson seemed to get excited at the thought of burning the edge as a pass-rusher, too.
“I’d have to put on some weight,” Peterson said. But when asked if he thinks he could be a 240-pound edge-rusher, he said, “I think so, without a doubt. It’s all about the type of ability you have. There’s guys 300 pounds that can’t squat more than me, that aren’t stronger than me and obviously don’t have more speed.”
Peterson was equally enthusiastic about the idea of switching to basketball or baseball -- figuring if he had dedicated himself full-time to either sport as much as he did football, he could have thrived.
“I definitely would’ve been nothing but basketball if I would’ve known,” Peterson said. “Baseball, too. I would’ve been swinging that bat. ... I see the ability that I have. The hand-eye coordination, the power, the strength, the speed. If I would’ve focused all that talent on baseball, you’re talking like a Ken Griffey Jr.-like player in baseball.
“I don’t know what I was thinking in high school.”