Let's make sure we all understand some context before getting too excited about Adrian Peterson's semi-serious prediction that he will break the NFL's career rushing record before the end of the 2017 season. (Whoops. Too late. Oh well.)
The most important note is that Peterson isn't even halfway to Emmitt Smith's current record. Peterson has rushed for 8,849 yards in his first six seasons, putting him 9,507 yards short of breaking Smith's mark.
Peterson turned 28 in March, and as the Elias Sports Bureau noted, no running back in NFL history has come close to accumulating that many yards after his 28th birthday. Smith, in fact, managed 8,195 yards after that point, as the chart shows.
We learned long ago never to doubt Peterson, but I think we're also learning that as a rule, he will never dismiss any possibility presented to him. The year-long narrative of his 2,500-yard "goal" for this season, for example, began with a question posed to him -- not a pronouncement he made on his own. (I shudder to think what he'll say when someone ups the ante and asks him if he can run for 3,000 yards in a season.)
If asked whether he can do something, Peterson is invariably going to say yes. But let's all understand that in order to break Smith's record in the timetable he provided, Peterson is going to need to be much more productive between the ages of 28 and 32 than he was between 22 and 27. When you realize that the career cliff for most running backs starts before age 30, you know, at the very least, how difficult a task Peterson has in front of him.