Adrian Peterson recently said something that every other veteran NFL player is thinking: training camp is boring and isn’t suited for veterans. The Minnesota Vikings running back told ESPN that when deciding whether to continue playing or not, having to go through training camp will be a deciding factor. “Physically, body-wise, I’ll be good. It’s just mentally — like with OTAs, I’m out there practicing, I’m going, I’m putting in work,” says Peterson, who turned 31 in March. “But it’s so repetitive that it’s more suited toward the young guys and getting them into the system.”
Playing football is incredibly taxing on your body. I’m not shocking the world by making that statement, but it needs to be reinforced. Football players are putting their bodies through an enormous strain from training camp, to preseason, to the regular season, playoffs and all the way to the Super Bowl, in some cases. A running back takes some of the most punishment in the sport. So when a player like Peterson, who’s entering his 10th season, says training camp “gets kind of boring,” the NFL should be proactive and come up with solutions. Players don’t run the league. However, if the league’s top players rather retire than participate in training camp, that needs to be taken seriously.
The NFL is already dealing with players retiring early because of concussion concerns. Just in the last couple of seasons, the league saw one of the best wide receiver in the league, Calvin Johnson, retire at 31. Pro Bowl linebacker Jared Mayo called it quits at 30. And Patrick Willis, one of the NFLs best linebackers retired at age 30. This is just a small sample size.
So, if Adrian Peterson says he’s sick of the grind of training camp, odds are he’s not the only one. Or even better: odds are he’s not the only superstar who’s sick of it. The NFL needs to smarten up and shorten training camp. It’s tough enough to play 16 regular season games. When you add in 4 preseason games and a training camp, we could see more and more stars choosing to hang it up unless something changes. And that would be disastrous for the game.