While Adrian Peterson's comeback from a torn ACL, MCL, and meniscus has been nothing short of miraculous, he isn't the first NFL player to attempt to come back in a devastating knee injury in a short period of time. In fact, the man considered to be the greatest wide receiver. . .and, possibly, greatest all-around football player, period. . .in this history of the NFL attempted to do the same thing.
In Week 1 of the 1997 NFL season against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, wide receiver Jerry Rice tore his ACL. That game happened on August 31, 1997. Rice rehabbed like a mad man, and came back on December 15, 1997 for the 49ers Week 16 match-up against the Denver Broncos. Rice caught a touchdown pass in that game, but later went on to break his kneecap, ending his season.
"I cracked my patella," Rice said on NFL Live. "I feel that I rushed myself back to the football field. And I think that with Adrian Peterson, he's doing the same thing. Because we are accustomed to being out there with the guys, sweating with the guys, fighting on the football field. And if you're not able to do that, you just don't feel connected. And that's the reason why I rushed back. I hope he doesn't do the same thing."
Now, I'm no doctor or anything, but I don't know if the tearing of a tendon and the breaking of a kneecap are connected in any way. Someone with much more medical knowledge than I have would have to answer that question.
In any event, Peterson does have a couple of advantages over Rice as far as this whole thing goes. As I mentioned, Rice attempted to come back and play again during the same season, with the game where he got injured and the game where he came back only being 107 days apart. On the other hand, if Peterson starts next Friday's exhibition game against the San Diego Chargers, it will have been 245 days since his last live action on the football field.
Then there's the obvious difference that, while Jerry Rice is a human being, Adrian Peterson is some form of cyborg, and so his rehabilitative processes are markedly different from Rice's.
In any case, while we'll all be holding our breath every time Adrian Peterson gets the football this season, the man has earned his right to attempt to come back from this. He rehabbed like crazy for just short of eight months, he's been medically cleared to play football again, and he surely knows about whatever risks there might be in attempting to come back from this injury in the time frame that he has.