The height of fame. The kind of one-name celebrity that Ocho, T.O., Peyton, Tom, Big Ben and L.T. have received. It's most certainly coming.
Some would say it's already here.
"Dude, he's everywhere," Vikings defensive end Jared Allen said during training camp. "I open a magazine, he's there. I turn on the TV, he's running with no shirt on."
Of course Allen and tens of millions of football fans know instantly that the shirtless guy in the purple shorts running at the camera on that NFL.com commercial and reminding us all that we should probably get to the gym is Adrian Peterson.
To the rest of America? He's a guy running at the camera with his shirt off.
"Believe me, everybody in our league is well aware of him, but if you had to pick him out of a bunch of guys walking down the street in New York City, people would not necessarily recognize him," said Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier. "You'd think he'd be on every billboard, every commercial ... that's not the case. He's not the most recognizable guy, probably even on our team. Its amazing, but I got a feeling as our team continues to get better that's all gonna change."
A very, very good point. Because, so far, what Peterson's lacked most has been a platform. The Vikings have been a mediocre team for the entire decade. As a result, the spotlight rarely swings onto them. Hence, the 3,101 yards and 22 touchdowns Peterson has run for in his first 30 NFL games have been witnessed as highlights by the majority of the masses.
First, the Favre Factor. Where Brett Favre goes, the cameras follow. And while the initial storyline to the 2009 Vikings will have a Favrian bent, the eyes won't lie. Adrian Peterson is the engine that makes this team run. Peterson and the loaded Vikings defense.
That leads to the second reason: Minnesota is going to be a good team this year. Better, quite likely, than last year's 10-6. And that success will give Peterson the chance to showcase his talent.
Not that anyone should expect anything to change about him when the spotlight does hit him.
"He's an extremely talented guy, but his work ethic is second to none," Frazier said. "He works so hard both in the weight room and at practice, taking every rep like it's a game. He reminds me of one of the greatest of all time that I played with, (Chicago Bears running back) Walter Payton. The way he practices reminds me a lot of Walter. And Walter was a great player for a long time, but it seemed like, until we won the division championships and conference championships, it took that to happen for his star to get brighter."
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