Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson, left, has had a much more successful… (Carlos Gonzalez / MCT; Phelan…)
Minnesota Vikings star running back Adrian Peterson is on record saying he was "robbed" of the Heisman Trophy back in 2004, when he finished second in voting to USC quarterback Matt Leinart. But now that he's won the NFL's MVP award, Peterson has changed his tune.
Well, kind of.
"I look at that [Heisman] trophy now and knowing that Matt Leinart has it, with how his career went, I would rather him have it," Peterson told the StarTribune of Minneapolis. "At least he has something positive to look back on and say, ‘I won the Heisman.’ I feel good that he has it. Even though I know it should have been mine."
Wow. What a nice guy. To paraphrase -- It's OK, Mattie. Go ahead, take the Heisman (even though I deserve it). Every time you look at that trophy (the one that should be mine), I want you to think back to your wonderful college years (since your NFL career went nowhere and I'm now the best player in the league ... oh, and did I mention I was better than you back then, too?).
Back in 2004, Leinart was a junior who threw for 2,990 yards with 28 touchdowns and six interceptions, leading the Trojans to an undefeated season and a since-vacated BCS title. Peterson rushed for 1,843 yards and 15 touchdowns for Oklahoma. His second-place finish in the Heisman voting was, at the time, the highest ever for a freshman.
Last season in the NFL, Peterson returned from a torn ACL and MCL the previous December to lead the league in rushing with 2,096 yards, nine shy of the all-time, single-season record. Leinart appeared in two games for the Oakland Raiders, passing for 115 yards with no touchdowns and one interception.
Note how Peterson refers to Leinart's NFL career in the past tense -- which may be accurate since the free-agent quarterback has yet to sign with a team and training camps have already started. But still, it's pretty harsh, since Leinart still lists himself as an "NFL quarterback" on his Twitter profile.
Also in the StarTribune interview, Peterson pegs down the exact game he will break Emmitt Smith's all-time rushing record -- Week 16 of the 2017 season. Not sure what Leinart will be up to at that point ... other than polishing his Heisman Trophy, that is.
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