"I've considered retiring from the NFL," Peterson said. "I still made $8 million dollars this year. I've thought about getting back into the real estate (business in Texas) I'm already in. That's something I've been interested in, something I'm involved in. I've thought about getting back into that. I've thought about going after the Olympics -- you only live once. It might be time for me to pursue that, as well. I love playing football, don't get me wrong, but this situation is deeper than that."
The 29-year-old, who is interested in the 200- and 400-meter dashes, says he plans to file a lawsuit against the NFL. But the prospect of leaving football weighs heavy on the runner.
"Of course I'd miss it. It's my first love. But the reason I would be walking away from it would be (if the next steps in the process) kind of solidify that hurt from these incidents," Peterson said. "I would know that, 'Hey, you're walking away not because you've given up. You're walking away because they're handling you all the way wrong in this situation. They're painting you out to be a guy that you're not.' "
In case he were to return to Minnesota -- at a pricey $13 million guaranteed -- the best running back of his generation doesn't think he should take a pay cut.
"I don't see why it would be the case," Peterson said. "I see me being a better player than I was."
The NFL suspended Peterson on Nov. 18 stemming from a no contest plea on what the league called "an incident of abusive discipline" toward his 4-year-old son. Because the appeal was denied, Peterson will not be considered for reinstatement before April 15, 2015.
If the conditions of the original six-game suspension stand, Peterson would serve the final three games of this season as well as the first three games of the 2015 season. Per NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport, though, Peterson will be on the field for the start of next season provided he cooperates with the NFL over the next four months.
For that to happen, of course, Peterson must want to return to the field.