This is an article from the Sept. 20, 2010 issue
VIKINGS RUNNING BACK
The 2008 rushing champ had 87 yards on 19 carries—and no fumbles (he had 20 in his first three seasons)—in a 14--9 loss to New Orleans
Dan Patrick:Last time you got nervous before a game?
Adrian Peterson: To be honest with you, when I'm out there, that first snap, you have jitterbugs going. But after that first snap, it goes away.
DP:That first hit gets you into the game? You want to get popped?
AP: Or pop someone.
DP:How do you react when people say Chris Johnson is the best running back in the NFL?
AP: I say to each his own. I play the game to be the best player, and that doesn't change my mind-set at all.
DP:Are you better than Chris?
DP:What does Chris do better than you?
AP: I don't think anything.
DP:He's not faster?
AP: No. Not faster, stronger, anything.
AP: You've got to understand, that's just the mentality I have. I have ultimate respect for that guy, he's a heck of a player. I remember one point in time me talking on the phone to Chris Johnson and letting him know [that]. He was telling me, "Hey, I'm a big fan of yours." This is when he first got into the league. "I like watching you, I like your style." And some advice I gave him was that I play this game to be the best player ever. That's my mentality.
DP:Did you tell him you were better than he is?
AP: He was listening to the words that were coming out of my mouth [laughs]. I told him, "You need to approach this with the same mentality. If you want to be the best running back, you've got to believe it before you can accomplish that."
DP:The fumbling issue... . When you shook my hand, I wanted part of it back. So you have strong hands, you're durable, you're used to carrying the football. So why the fumbling problems? And how do you solve that?
AP: From doing research on myself and watching film, I found that a majority of my issues [came about] when I was getting tackled, fighting for extra yards. I've got a couple guys wrapping me up and I'm still keeping my feet moving and swinging that ball, leaving the opportunity for guys to punch and rake at it. That's really what it is.
DP:Will you hold the ball differently?
AP: Yeah. A lot tighter [laughs]. And keep it high. That was the main thing I noticed when I looked at the fumbles I had: getting the ball away from my body. It was leaving that crease for guys to punch at it, punch at it, punch at it.
DP:Last time Favre made you laugh in the huddle? He's goofy in the huddle.
AP: He is. He's definitely a character. I'm sure it was this week. It happens all the time. He's always doing something crazy.
DP:He's got some gas issues, too, in the huddle, doesn't he?
AP: [Laughs.] Unfortunately.
DP:Do you expect to be in the Super Bowl this year?
AP: Without a doubt. That's the expectation of me and of this team. To make it even better, it's in Dallas—where I'm from. I actually lived in Dallas for a few years. It'd feel good to go back and win it at home.
• Real Story
With its undersized, underdog hero and its dramatic climax, Rudy is widely considered one of the best sports movies of all time. But when I talked to Joe Montana—who was a Notre Dame quarterback when the movie took place—last week, he was quick to point out that Hollywood took some liberties with the story. "It's a movie, remember," he said. "Not all that's true." Specifically, Montana said the crowd wasn't chanting Rudy Ruettiger's name, and the scene in which the Irish players threw their jerseys down to protest Rudy's originally being left off the roster never happened. And while Ruettiger did make a big play at the end of the game, Montana didn't remember it being quite so dramatic. "He got in and he did get a sack, and then the guys just carried him off kind of playing around," Montana said. "I won't say it was a joke, just playing around. But he worked his butt off to get where he was and to do the things he did. But not any harder than anyone else."
• Line of the week
First-year Irish coach Brian Kelly talked about running out of the tunnel at Notre Dame Stadium for the first time: "For a moment there I thought about the historical significance of running out of that tunnel. For a moment. After that, you're trying to get the heck out of the way so you don't get run over."
THE FINE PRINT: Florida pastor Terry Jones may be calming down. Now he just wants to burn the Cowboys' playbook.
Now Hear This
Listen to the podcasts at danpatrick.com/interviews
1. Two-time Heisman winner Archie Griffin on Reggie Bush.
2. Hall of Famer Jerry Rice discusses Week 1 in the NFL.