Adrian Peterson does not have a touchdown in U.S. Bank Stadium. In fact, he has a long run of just 13 yards there, and he fumbled at the end of the play.
The man they call “All-Day AP” returns to Minnesota’s still shiny new digs Monday. However, Peterson has traded in the purple and yellow of the Vikings for the black and gold of the New Orleans Saints.
There is no doubt that Peterson is revered in Minnesota, despite playing just 20 of the last 48 games. Over the last three years, the glimmering legacy of the man who was the 2012 MVP already started to fade.
The injury woes, the suspension and turning 30 made Peterson less than the dominating force he was once. In the three games he played last season, Peterson averaged an anemic 1.9 yards per carry.
But upon returning from injury in Week 15 against the Indianapolis Colts at home, the aura Peterson possesses in Minnesota was evident.
He received the loudest cheer during player introductions. In fact, the cheer that reverberated around the stadium when he came out for warmups was louder than most of his teammates’ introductions proper. Fans strained to get their phones in a place to snap a picture or to just catch a glimpse of the future Hall of Famer.
Peterson’s contract with the Vikings had him earning $18 million this year. It does not take an economics degree to realize that is a lot of money. Those with a fantasy football degree realize that is a lot of money for a player who hasn’t done much lately.
The Vikings were dedicating a large portion of funds to an older running back while they had other issues, the offensive line for example, but needed cash to fill the holes. To compound the issue, the Sam Bradford trade made it so they couldn’t roster a starting quarterback with a relative steal of a rookie contract.
That left two options, either Peterson takes a deep pay cut, or he walks. Sadly, it was the latter that happened.
By fate, it was New Orleans, the team set to take on the Vikings in primetime Week 1, to give the best Minnesota running back ever a call.
This makes for an awkward situation for Vikings fans. If there is a non-divisional foe for the Minnesotans to hate, it is the Saints. Most still smart from the heartbreaking 2009 NFC Championship game.
Yet, this is Minnesota. There is a reason why there is a “Minnesota Nice” stereotype. It is hard to imagine anything but a warm welcome to the former face of the franchise.
Will the fans boo him onto the field? Probably not. Will they still cheer when the defense stuffs him on third and short? Of course.
That being said, Viking fans will still hope that the fumble issues that plagued Peterson over his tenure in Minneapolis are still relevant. They will still cheer should the football break free. Perhaps, should Peterson fumble, that would be his way of saying thank you.
Welcome back AP, good luck running on that Viking defense.