Huddle Up

NFL News and Analysis with Andrew Perloff

Perloff
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  • 04:26 PM ET  11.04

You can start a franchise with either LaDainian Tomlinson or Adrian Peterson, who do you take?

Give me Peterson.

Tomlinson is obviously one of the best of all time. But he's attacking the record book on  a  slow and steady pace, accumulating stats through the years without too much flash. Peterson, who set the single-game rushing record today with 296 yards against the Chargers, is the most exciting running back to enter the NFL since Barry Sanders.

Commentators say LT is a threat to take it to the house from anywhere on the field. That's simply not true. Tomlinson has six runs over 60 yards in his seven-year career. That's less than one a year. Peterson already has three runs of over 60 yards in his rookie season, including a 64-yard touchdown in the Vikings' 35-17 win today. And Peterson took a screen pass 60 yards for a touchdown in Week 1.

The debate is similar to Emmitt Smith vs. Barry Sanders. Smith is the NFL rushing king, but it's hard to remember more than one or two specific long runs in his long career. Sanders' career was filled with breath-taking long dashes.

Tomlinson gets a lot of credit for setting the NFL touchdown record last season, as did Shaun Alexander in 2005. But many of those were of the 2-yard variety, so that statistic doesn't say much.

With all the rule changes to help the passing game, the break-away running back had become a thing of the past. Backs have big statistical seasons, but that's because yards and scoring are up so much as defenses scramble to catch up with aerial attacks like New England and Indianapolis. Also, defense are set so far back to stop the pass, running backs can't get past the deep guys.

Peterson is a throwback to the running backs of my youth, like Sanders, Earl Campbell, Eric Dickerson, Tony Dorsett and Walter Payton - players who seemed to be capable of ripping off 70-yard touchdowns every game. Guys you couldn't take your eyes off.

Tomlinson is a great running back. One of the best ever. He will likely break most NFL rushing records. Peterson, however, won't be far behind if he can stay healthy. And Peterson will do it in a much more exciting fashion.

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