The choice is tricky between Sanders and Peterson. For many of us, we grew up watching Sanders. He was the first person we can remember who was the personification of an NFL running back. He was the guy whose moves we tried (and failed) to emulate while we ran around the backyard in our youth.
But now we have Peterson to watch and he's doing things we didn't think possible. He is this generation's version of the ideal running back. The guy many kids run around emulating on fields across the world.
How can we possibly decide?
There is really one fair, scientific way to make this happen. We need to take them to the grid!
And without further ado ...
|Player||Barry Sanders||Adrian Peterson||Give it to ...|
|Height/weight:||5-8, 200||6-1, 217||Push|
|Compared to:||Oklahoma State||Oklahoma||Peterson|
|Fight song:||"Ride 'em Cowboys"||"Boomer Sooner"||Peterson. "Boomer Sooner" might be the perfect college fight song. Or maybe it's because it makes me think of Jim Ross.|
|Heisman Trophy:||Yes||No||Sanders. Yes, Peterson lost the Heisman Trophy to Matt Leinart. Let that sink in for a moment. ... Oh, are you still pondering that one? Sure, take your time. ... We good? All right, let's move on.|
|Draft position:||No. 3 in 1989||No. 7 in 2007||Sanders. You're still stuck on Leinart winning the Heisman Trophy, aren't you? It's okay. Don't let it distract you.|
|Best person picked in front of him:||Troy Aikman||Calvin Johnson||Push|
|LOL! Person picked in front of him:||Tony Mandarich||JaMarcus Russell||Nobody. Former Raiders coach Lane Kiffin, of course, is telling everybody who will listen that he wanted Megatron. And if you've watched Kiffin at USC, you'll notice he never squanders talent.|
|Compared to:||Push. In addition to Sanders, some of my earliest football memories were of Dickerson electrifying Anaheim Stadium. And if you watch Sayers on film, he was pretty awesome, too. So yes, I will overlook my L.A. Rams bias to call this a push.|
|Nickname:||B||A.D.; Purple Jesus||Sanders. Yes, Purple Jesus is good (and only slightly blasphemous), but the understated "B" is perfectly suited for Sanders and not a terrible, uninspired initial-driven nickname like A-Rod or something. Plus, people erroneously refer to Peterson as A.P.|
|Quarterback to bear:||Scott Mitchell||Christian Ponder||Push|
|Followed in his foosteps:||Billy Sims||Robert Smith||Sanders. Look up some of the footage of Sims, he was awesome. Strange Sanders took Sims' No. 20, seeing that he wore No. 21 at Oklahoma State.|
|Best season:||2,053 yards in 1997||2,097 in 2012||Peterson|
|Woulda, coulda, shoulda:||Could have retired as the NFL's all-time leading rusher||Could have set the single-season rushing record||Sanders|
|Knee related blowout:||Made Rod Woodson tear his||Impossibly returned from his own knee injury||Peterson|
|Guy they beat to get this far in the Madden vote:||Jerry Rice||Arian Foster||Sanders. Seriously.|
|2014 Madden Rating:||99||97||What the what? a 97 for Peterson?|
|Questionable Madden ranking:||75 trucking||87 trucking||Peterson|
The final verdict? Well, my vote is going to Barry Sanders based on the data here. And hey, it's science after all.
Adam Rank has never won an award. For anything. We don't mean to be harsh, but it's true. You can follow him on Twitter @adamrank. Oh, and if you liked this (right!), check him out on the latest "Dave Dameshek Football Program". Which, come to think of it won an award. So Rank has won something meaningful. Yes, meaningful unlike this latest post. Am I right? But follow him on Twitter, please. He's taking us to lunch if he gets 25 more Twitter followers today.