Two of the best running backs of their time continue to defy "Father Time" entering the 2020 season.
Adrian Peterson, 35, is about to begin his 14th season in the NFL while Frank Gore, 37, will embark on his 16th. Both hold a spot in the top 5 of the league's all-time leading rushers and will certainly threaten Emmitt Smith before it's all said and done. The question is, who will end their career with more rushing yards.
First, we're going to need a tale of the tape.
Adrian Peterson: 14,216 yards, 4.7 YPC (164 games) Frank Gore: 15,347, 4.3 YPC (226 games)
Gore has the obvious advantage of being in the league two more years than Peterson and having much better durability throughout his career. Peterson averages 86.7 yards per game over the span of his career. If he played the same number of games as Gore with that average, his career rushing total would be 19,591. That'd be good for the all-time lead over Smith by roughly 1,200 yards.
But injuries are a part of the game, and as observers we're forced to think "what if" just about every single day.
So entering 2020, Peterson trails Gore by 1,131. Gore is expected to LeVeon Bell's backup in Pittsburgh after a 599-yard campaign with the Bills last season while Peterson figures to Washington's lead running back following Derrius Guice's release.
Peterson probably won't be able to make up the difference this season, but if he plays until he's 40 like he says he wants to and remains with teams with short depth charts in the backfield, there's no reason to think he wouldn't catch Gore.
The only thing that could potentially derail that plan is another injury or Gore just deciding never to retire. The latter feels like the more likely scenario, and no matter how common injuries are to running backs over the age of 30.