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Adrian Peterson: I'm entering the prime of my career

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Appealing his season-long suspension this week, Adrian Peterson's NFL career is at a crossroads.

Although Peterson's Vikings' future is up in the air, the All-Pro tailback is determined to play -- and play well -- for at least another half-decade.

"People say, 'Oh, running back hits 34, 35 (and he's done). When you get to 30, you go down.' I don't believe that," Peterson recently told USA TODAY Sports' Tom Pelissero. "I believe I'm just now here in my prime. I believe these next five or six years -- or however long I decide to play -- it's going to be the same production and I'm going to do even better than I did before in my 20s."

Peterson turns 30 in March. Studies have shown that running-back production decreases by 15 percent at age 28, 25 percent at age 29 and 40 percent by the age-30 wall.

Of course, Peterson has already laughed in the face of studies that showed running backs struggle in their return from ACL surgery. An exceptional athlete as well as a genetic freak, Peterson flirted with Eric Dickerson's single-season rushing record less than a year after shredding his knee late in the 2011 season.

"If you think you're old, you're going to feel old, you're going to act old," Peterson said. "You take care of your body and put the right things in your body, your body will take care of you.

"People thought I was crazy when I said I was going to come back from my ACL injury. You know why? Because they couldn't believe that it could be possible. But I believed."

Peterson is due $13 million in 2015 -- none of it guaranteed. If the Vikings opt to part ways, the best running back of his generation won't lack for suitors. Peterson has made it clear that he envisions finishing his Hall of Fame-level career with the Dallas Cowboys.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast previews a busy Week 14 schedule and recaps the Cowboys' win over the Bears. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.

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