Adrian Peterson Opens Up About Why He Soured on Mike Zimmer and Parted with Vikings

adrian peterson minnesota vikings
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Zimmer is one of the greatest head coaches in Minnesota Vikings history. He coached eight seasons and his teams from 2015 to 2019 had some of the best defenses in franchise history.

Zim posted a combined 72-56-1 record while walking the Vikings’ sideline. But there may not be another coach in Vikings history who got more dumped on post-firing, than Mike Zimmer, either.

His former GM Rick Spielman has taken his shots, and he heard it plenty from former players too, including former offensive draft picks like 3rd-round QB Kellen Mond and superstar wide receiver Justin Jefferson. Even defensive studs like Eric Kendricks, who were raised under Zim’s tutelage, went after him.

Adrian Peterson no fan of former Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer

Adrian Peterson minnesota vikings
Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

And now, we can add Adrian Peterson to that list of former players who were not fans of Zim. AP went on Rachel Demita’s podcast ‘Courtside Club’, to reiterate that he is NOT retiring from the NFL. But another topic they dove deep on is why Peterson ever left the Minnesota Vikings.

During that part of the interview, we find out that, no matter what the Vikings motives were at the time, Peterson had no plans of returning, after the 2016 season. Why? You guessed it. Mike Zimmer. AP traces his exit back to one specific moment when Zim “rubbed him the wrong way” following a week 14 game against the Indianapolis Colts.

After rushing for 50 yards on 31 carries combined between weeks one and two of that season, Peterson went down with a meniscus injury that needed surgery. Following months of recover, he made his return in that game vs the Colts, one the Vikings needed to win, in order keep any mathematical hope of making the playoffs alive. AP gained 22 yards on 6 carries and the Vikings lost 34-6.

Related: Adrian Peterson Denies Ever Authorizing the Sale of His MVP Trophy

When the team got back to practice at the start of week 15, Adrian went to Mike with the intention of shutting himself back down for the remaining few weeks of the season. AP tells Demita that he was concerned about injuring himself, right before he was about to hit free agency. A risk he wasn’t willing to take, when the team didn’t have a chance at postseason play

Predictably, Mike “challenged” AP’s character and football guy mentality, which is near the top of the list of things that football players find disrespectful. I’ll let Peterson take it from here. I transcribed most of the video below, for those who would prefer to read what he said.

“Long story short, ‘the odds’ again… I overcame what ‘the odds’ were saying and I was able to come back. We were playing the Colts and we needed to win out, like we had point-something percent chance, but any chance we had [I was going to play], that’s the mentality I have, you know, whatever [chances we have], I’m ridin’ with it.

We end up losing that game, I came back out there and, you know, I played decent… didn’t really play too well, you know, it had been a while. And that [loss] pretty much eliminated us from playoff contention. The next week, coach wanted me to play again. I was like, ‘coach, I just came back from tearing [my meniscus]. It’s my first game. We have no chance to make the playoffs, why would I get out there and risk hurting myself?”

“[That was 2016] and my contract was up too, you know, so I could have easily been like, ‘I’m just gonna shut it down [in week 3 after the initial injury] and just, whatever, recover’. But that’s not my mentality. And he challenged me. He was like, ‘well I feel like, if you was able to play last week, then you’re able to come out and play now’.

And I was like, ‘I would do that if we really had a chance to make it to the playoffs, but we don’t and I’m not gonna go out here and risk hurting myself for pointless game.’ And he was like, well I just rather you had not played last game’, and this that and the other.

That’s the first time that a coach has really just rubbed me wrong with challenging me, when it comes to what I’ve been doing since I was 7 y/o, playing the game that I love. And that’s what rubbed me so wrong because here I am, the face of the franchise, I dun scratched back after your staff and your professionals had told you that, ‘you know what, he’s not gonna make it back in time and ya’ll should just sit him.’

I scratched back because that’s the love I have for the game and you’re gonna disrespect me like that? I was through with him after that. I was like, alright man, whatever.

Adrian Peterson – Interview with Rachel Demita (Courtside Club Podcast)

Related: Are Giants Trying to Bait Vikings into Trading Ahead of Them in NFL Draft?

Adrian Peterson went on to sign with the New Orleans Saints in free agency, where he found himself in his first real running back timeshare. He was traded to the Arizona Cardinals in the middle of the 2017 season. His final 1,000 yard rushing performance would come one year later, in 2018 with the then Washington Redskins.

Mike Zimmer’s 72 victories with the Minnesota Vikings are more than any coach to ever wear the headset, whose last name isn’t Green or Grant. But there’s no doubt, he had issues coaching talent in an age where NFL players are making millions more than the coaches tasked with keeping a team together and moving in a forward direction.

This interview with AP is the most recent example of that truth.

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