Adrian Peterson has been vocal over the years about his desire to swipe the NFL's career rushing record from Emmitt Smith. If the Vikings running back doesn't accomplish the feat, the record could stand for a long time.
"If he doesn't get it, I don't know who's going to get it," Smith told ESPN.com. "He's still got a lot of yards to go. I'm not going to lie to you."
Peterson's 11,675 yards places him 17th all time, 6,680 yards behind Smith's 18,355. If All Day plays five more seasons he would need to average 1,336 yards to break Smith's record. Peterson led the NFL with 1,485 yards in 2015. At 30 years old, history is against Peterson holding that streak of longevity. Most backs decline at 30, but the Vikings' bulldozer has proven to be more than a mere mortal before -- leading the NFL in rushing after tearing an ACL.
If Peterson's body breaks down thanks to the heavy workload, Smith's record could last for decades. Frank Gore currently has more yards (12,040) than Peterson, but the 32-year-old isn't a threat to the record. Marshawn Lynch just retired with 9,112 yards. At 29, Jamaal Charles has 7,220 yards. Rookie Todd Gurley could have a shot, but needs to stack many, many more years before we consider him a contender.
Jim Brown held the NFL's rushing record for 21 years. Walter Payton owned it for 18 before Smith broke it in 2002.
With the proliferation of running back tandems, pass-heavy offenses and few workhorse backs, Smith might own it longer than both legendary backs combined if Peterson falls short.
Smith lamented the decline in the one-back system.
"It's somewhat sad," he said, "because I know as a running back it's hard to get that continuity and get in the flow of the game when you're getting 15 carries a game. I didn't even get rolling until I got 15 carries a game."