Eric Dickerson holds what I consider to be the greatest individual achievement in NFL history: the single-season rushing record of 2,105 yards. The brutality Dickerson's body endured (especially as he got close to the mark) and the sheer yardage number itself is just remarkable. The record was set in 1984 and only two players have truly come close.
"I'm not nervous," Dickerson said, laughing.
In his first public comments since Peterson got close to his mark and said Dickerson should be nervous, Dickerson made one thing clear: He has great respect for Peterson but doesn't think Peterson will break his mark.
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"Adrian is a class guy," Dickerson said. "I don't watch football any more. I don't watch sports. I just see the highlights. I see his highlights and he's a great player. I don't want him to break my record, but I wish him the best."
Then Dickerson was more blunt.
"I don't want him to break it," Dickerson said. "I'll be honest. I don't want to see it. If anyone ever broke it, and if my son played football, I'd want my son to break it. But that's it. No one else.
"Again, he's a phenomenal player and seems like a good dude. If a player was to break it, I'd probably want it to be Adrian, but I like having the record. I don't think it's going to be broken."
Then Dickerson made perhaps his best point when he said these final three games for Peterson will be the toughest of his run at the record. That's because no team is going to want to watch, or be a part of, Peterson making history. Each game, Dickerson said, will get exponentially tougher for Peterson.
"As I got close to the record, teams got nastier and nastier," Dickerson said. "In one of my final games against Houston, they started saying and doing some things I didn't like, so I took it out on them.
"Defenses are going to say, 'This guy isn't setting the record against me.' They will be mad and do whatever it takes to stop him."
Dickerson added: "What he will see is that to set a mark like that, everything has to be perfect. The offensive line play has to be perfect. You can't fall behind badly. You can't get hurt. You can't have your players get hurt. You can't catch the defense on a day when they're playing perfect. Weather conditions have to be OK. Everything has to be perfect."
And that, in a nutshell, is why the record has stood. Peterson has to be incredibly good and incredibly lucky. He's got the former part down. Whether he breaks the mark depends on the latter.
"Hey," Dickerson said, "he's got a chance. He's close and any time you're close, you've got a chance. But we'll really see what he's made of now."
Peterson needs to average about 169 yards in his final three games against St. Louis, Houston and Green Bay. He's been averaging about 158 yards in his last seven games.
He can get that average against the sorry Rams, but the Texans and Packers are different. Houston might still be fighting for the No. 1 seed and I don't see a prideful Green Bay team ever allowing Peterson to set the record against them.
This is why I think Dickerson's record is safe.
The only running back in history better than Dickerson is Jim Brown. Maybe O.J. Simpson is in the mix for No. 2 behind Brown, but that's it. Dickerson was that good. Dickerson was that great.
And his record is probably safe.