You’ve all heard the story already.
Back in December of 2011, Adrian Peterson took a gruesome hit to the side of his left knee, tearing his ACL and MCL in the process. The season-ending injury required reconstructive surgery, leading many to believe that Peterson wouldn’t be seeing the field for the Minnesota Vikings anytime soon.
Then, miraculously, Peterson and his otherworldly athleticism found a way to return to the field by the first week of the 2012 NFL season. After eight and a half months of extensive rehab, the All-Pro running back had built his knee back to game strength. Peterson had pulled off the impossible.
Considered a game-time decision in Week 1, Peterson was activated and didn’t disappoint. In his first return to the field since the injury, he racked up 84 yards on 17 carries, scoring an impressive two touchdowns in the process.
Since then, he has racked up 332 yards on 79 carries, culminating in a 4.2 yards-per-carry average on the season. Although the numbers aren’t mind-blowing, the fact that some saw his career as over only nine months ago says a lot about how far Peterson has come.
His best game came this past weekend, when Peterson began to look like the All Day of old. While amassing 102 yards, Peterson made minced meat of the Detroit Lions defense, breaking numerous tackles on almost every carry. All game long, he refused to go down, slipping arm tackles left and right.
In nine months, Peterson has bounced back from a career-threatening injury to reemerge as one of the NFL’s premier running backs. If that doesn’t warrant some serious consideration for the Comeback Player of the Year Award, then I don’t know what does.
The other top candidate for the Comeback Player of the Year Award is Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning.
One of the NFL’s greatest passers of all-time, Manning missed the entire 2011 season while dealing with a serious neck injury that needed four – yes, four – surgeries to fix. Since returning, he has helped the Broncos to a 2-2 record while compiling 1,162 yards, eight touchdowns and three interceptions with a passer rating of 96.9.
Still, he has struggled to achieve pre-injury form unlike Peterson.
Seeing as Peterson still believes he has more room for improvement, we could be watching a whole different runner by season’s end. If that’s the case, you might as well etch his name on the award right now.