NEW ORLEANS -- Adrian Peterson thought it over for a few seconds, then smiled as he declared that he would like to play another six or seven years.
"Thirty-seven, 38 would be good," said Peterson, who revealed that he came up with that answer partly because he had just glanced up and noticed former New Orleans Saints player Steve Gleason's No. 37 on the scoreboard during a charity softball game Wednesday night.
"It's a good number. It's approaching 40," Peterson said. "And then I seen 37 up there, so ..."
Maybe Peterson was having a little fun with the question. But the 32-year-old seems serious about wanting to play well into his 30s -- and to keep proving doubters wrong now that he is starting over with a new team after a decade with the Minnesota Vikings.
Peterson said he was driven to do things that have never been done before when asked if he shared the same mentality as quarterbacks like Tom Brady and new teammate Drew Brees -- who have talked about the idea of playing until they are 45.
"Yeah, that's always been my mindset, to defeat the odds, to be that person to show the youngsters and the aspiring kids that want to play football and just athletes around the world in every sport, that it doesn't matter what the people say around you," Peterson said. "As long as you believe and you put in the work, and God blesses you with good health, you could accomplish anything you put your mind to. So that's the kind of example that I want to leave."
Peterson has certainly made quite a first impression during the first two weeks of Saints OTA practices, with new teammates sounding almost in awe of his physical exploits on the field.
Safety Kenny Vaccaro called him "ridiculous." Brees called him "a stud." And offensive tackle Terron Armstead said, "I'm amazed, honestly. Seeing him just take off his first few steps are as explosive as I've ever seen by a human being."
Peterson should be used to comments like that after his stellar decade with the Vikings, which included a 2,000-yard season and an NFL MVP award after he came back from a torn ACL in 2012.
But he said it meant a lot to him to hear his new teammates talking that way.
"It feels good, just to have that support of your new teammates. For me it's like confirmation, because I'm always just trying to be the best at what I do," Peterson said. "It's a confidence-builder. And that's what I'm about, putting in the work and showing guys -- not necessarily living up to the hype -- but showing guys that I'm about business, I'm coming here to really help and put a stamp on the offense as well and contribute.
"You know, to hear guys just kind of pat me on my back, it feels good. You know, I'm 32 years old, so outside the building, in the media, you have a lot of people say this and say that, '32 over the hill,' so it feels good to hear the guys that are established see the work that you're putting in payin' off."
Peterson has talked before about how it drives him nuts that people are doubting him and putting him "in a box" because he is 32 and missed 13 games because of a torn meniscus in his knee last year.
When asked if that means he'll be coming into this year with a chip on his shoulder, Peterson said, "I'd be lying to you if I said that it doesn't give you a chip, especially being a competitor. But it's not my main focus. It's something that drives me a little bit."
"But after [I turned] 30, I guess they were saying that then. 'Oh, he's 30.' Then I ended up leading the league in 2015. And they said the same thing the next year," Peterson added. "So it's like stuff will continue to repeat itself until I'm finished."
Whenever that might be.