Top 5 Running Backs: No. 1, Adrian Peterson 

When you’re better in real life after career-threatening knee surgery than Bo Jackson in Tecmo Bowl, then getting your props comes naturally, like moving bowels.

In the case of Purple Jesus, the Minnesota Vikings’ future HOF yard-monger continues to dump on defensive coordinators and pillage NFL defenses, following a video-game like ’12 MVP season.

What more can be said about the 6-1, 220-pound freak of nature and the ultimate backfield-bully? He’s a five-time Pro Bowler, two-time NFL rushing champ and has little competition from his contemporaries.

Just eight months after an ACL and MCL tear, Peterson not only came back quickly and effectively, but he turned up his game, rushing for 2,097 yards. It was the second-most ever for a running back in a single season, eight yards shy of the great Eric Dickerson’s record of 2,105, set in ’84, when MJ’s Moonwalk was a novelty and Jheri Curl juice was still dripping from player’s helmets.

AP singlehandedly led a super-weak Vikes offense to respectability and helped the Purple People Eaters squeak out 10 wins and a Wild Card.

While spread offenses and the like have changed the “look” of today’s runners into short, shifty, scat-backs, Peterson is a throwback, reminiscent of the old breed of tall, fleet-footed and powerful backs that run straight up and lift their knees high like marching band directors.

It’s a dangerous style in today’s game, but Peterson never seems fazed by an opponent’s lick. He is all modern man when it comes to being in optimum physical shape, shaking off setbacks and flossing his bionic body.

If you took all of your favorite running backs and threw them into a super-stew, the end result would probably be a dirty dish of AP.

He’s got the sexy breakaway speed of a Tony DorsettDickerson’s running posture, John Riggins’ strength, Marshal Faulk’s multi-threat capabilities and Barry Sanders elusiveness.

His ego matches his colossal ambition and Peterson can easily answer the barrage of fans, who can’t fathom what he’ll do for an encore.

Peterson told NFL Network's Ari Wolfe that rushing for 2,500 yards is still a goal. Sounds crazy, but in actuality, that’s just a couple more solid blocks up front, leading to a few bigger gains.

“Yeah I def think it’s possible with the (quality of) guys surrounding me,” Peterson boasted.

Fantasy numbers are nice, but Peterson also says his main focus is winning a ring, and if QB Christian Ponder shows much-needed improvement, then AP won’t have to do as much heavy lifting this go-round. As superhuman as Purple Jesus seems, the guy still had some major reconstructive surgery and if the Vikes are smart they won’t drive him into the ground, trying to run him into the record books.

JR Gamble joined The Shadow League in 2012. The General Manager of Content & Social Media is in his 25th year of covering sports and culture professionally. He has covered a wide variety of major sports and entertainment topics across different mediums, including radio, newspapers, magazines and national TV. His passion is baseball, the culturing of baseball and preserving and documenting the historically-impactful accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans in baseball.