Adrian Peterson is the best running back in the game. He’s one of the most invincible players in the NFL. An ACL surgery that would have sidelined a mere mortal for over a year took Peterson just eight months to recover from, and there he was, back on the field giving defenses hell, rushing for more than 2,000 yards in 2012 and carrying the Vikings to the postseason en route to an MVP trophy. And yet, All Day does have one kryptonite: Shellfish.
Two years ago, Peterson devoured some gumbo at training camp, and suddenly his body went into anaphylactic shock—a life-threatening type of allergic reaction. The immortal AD could barely breathe before alerting team doctors, who helped him swiftly administer an EpiPen—a spring-loaded handheld dose of epinephrine. Now, Peterson is helping spread the word about anaphylaxis and the importance of carrying an EpiPen for those affected by serious allergies.
Because just about the only thing that can stop him from another 1,000-yard season is a piece of shrimp finding its way into his pre-game meal, through a partnership with EpiPen and Mylan Specialty L.P., Peterson wants to impress upon Americans the importance of carrying an EpiPen at all times for those who need it, and wants to debunk the stigma that carrying one limits your potential or makes you weak. “I’m a good example of that,” he notes.
Tuesday, Peterson caught up with TDdaily by phone to discuss his experience with anaphylaxis, and of course, his 2013 NFL season, including his nagging groin injury, seeing Percy Harvin on Sunday, his future with the Vikings and his thoughts on the Dolphins “bullying” situation. Check it out below, and for more information on the campaign, check out 25YearsofEpiPen.com.
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TDdaily: Tell us about finding out you had an allergy, and having an anaphylactic reaction.
Adrian Peterson: In 2011 at training camp, I went for lunch, and seafood gumbo was on the menu. Seafood was my favorite food. That’s something that I ate for a long time. So I ate like two bowls of gumbo and went back to my room to rest up for the afternoon practice. That’s when I started seeing the symptoms of anaphylaxis. I didn’t know that at the time, but that’s what it was. My throat was itching and started to swell up on me. My eyes were itching continuously. I kept rubbing my eyes with both hands, because they were itching. Before I laid down to go to sleep, I looked up in the mirror and noticed that my lips were swollen, my eyes were swollen. So I got on the phone and I called my athletic trainer and told him the symptoms—like, “Hey, it’s hard for me to breathe, I can’t breathe through my nose, my throat feels like it’s starting to close up and my eyes are itching.” He said, “OK, I’m coming right now.” I hung up the phone, and it seemed like that triggered something—my throat started closing up even more, to the point that I was barely breathing. Like, barely inhaling. One thing that I look back on, that helped out a lot was to remain calm. I went downstairs, and the trainer was getting out of the elevator, and he had a two-pack of EpiPen Auto-Injectors. He quickly showed me how to administer it, so I took the EpiPen and administered it to my right thigh. Immediately, my throat started to open up. I was able to breathe a lot better, and I was able to seek further assistance—they took me to the hospital. So after training camp, I went to see an allergist, and they ran tests on me and determined that I’m allergic to shrimp, scallops and lobster. So now, my game plan is to know my allergic triggers and make sure I avoid them. And I always have access to EpiPen Auto-Injectors in case it happens.
TD: How’s your groin feeling this week? Is this an injury that’s been bothering you all season or just flared up now?
AP: It’s feeling good. It’s something that’s been bothering me for a couple weeks now. But I’m doing pretty good. I’m going to continue to push, mid-week, do the things I need to do so I can play on Sunday. That’s where I’m at.
TD: You got to see Percy Harvin for the first time in a while last week, but in a Seahawks uniform. What was that like? What did you guys talk about after the game?
AP: It was cool, man, it was cool. Percy’s my boy. He’s a good guy, he’s a genuine guy. Things kinda went south when he was here. But heart to heart, he has a good heart. So to be able to see him after the game, embrace him, give him a hug—that’s the first time I’ve seen him in a long time—just to encourage him to take care of his body, and continue to stay focused, and just kind of be able to catch up. I asked how his fiance is doing, and he just had a little baby boy, so it was cool to sit there and talk for a minute, and see his face.
TD: That Seahawks defense is one that most people consider among the best in the league. You guys have seen them and the Panthers, too. Who’s the best defense you’ve played against this season?
AP: Um, I don’t know. That’s a tough one. Detroit, we played them the first week, those guys are good as well. But yeah, you hit it right on the head. Seattle and the Panthers defense, I can say are two of the best defenses I’ve played this year. Very impressive.
TD: People made a big deal about your comments in regards to your future with the Vikings and a potential trade at some point. Do you want to stay in Minnesota your whole career?
AP: Yeah, you know, any time you’re 2-8, people try to go in and dig, and say this and say that. One thing that I don’t ever overlook is: it’s a business. So I understand where the questions come from. People will say, “Why don’t they trade Adrian for a couple players” or whatever—that’s talk that’s going to happen. And I understand that. I understand that anybody can get traded at any time. You look at Peyton Manning, switched teams. You look at Brett Favre. I look at them and I’m like, “Who am I, to not get traded?” It’s not something that I want, I would love to stay here in Minnesota. But you never know what happens in this business.
TD: At the same time, though, do you ever get frustrated that you’re in the prime of your career on a team that’s probably going to miss the playoffs for the third time in four years?
AP: I try not to get too frustrated about things. I always try to keep my hopes alive when I’m in a situation. So with me still being in the season, I’m focusing on… I’m not trying to look ahead, but when I look ahead, I’m like, if we win out, we’re 8-8 and still have a chance. So I never give up. That’s the way that I’m looking at things right now, as they stand, and that’s the way I’m going to look at it until the season is included.
TD: The general outside perception is that you need more help at the quarterback position. What’s your reaction when you hear those kinds of comments?
AP: Looking at the guys that we have, I feel like they have potential. I’m the type of person that, I never give up on an individual. I never give up. So, I look at Christian [Ponder], and I feel like he has so much potential. It’s all about being consistent. I think not being as consistent, at the quarterback position, it gets highlighted a lot more than at the linebacker position or receiver, or something like that. From what I’ve seen, I feel like he has what it takes to be a starting quarterback in this league, and to lead a team to a championship. But it’s all about him believing it, and doing the necessary things he needs to do to help a team accomplish it.
TD: What was your initial reaction to the whole Jonathan Martin-Richie Incognito situation down in Miami? As a veteran in the Vikings locker room, how do you feel that stuff needs to be handled?
AP: Well, I was shocked at first. I couldn’t believe that we were talking about bullying in the NFL. That was my first initial thought, like, “Seriously? A locker room full of grown men, and we’re talking about bullying?” That was my first reaction, like I couldn’t believe this was even a topic of conversation. But it is what it is. I don’t really know the details of the situation or what’s going on down there in Miami, but I do know that the locker is a place that’s filled with alpha males. A lot of guys stroke their egos, a lot of guys like, “I’m better than you.” There’s a lot of that. What happens in the locker room—there’s a lot of stuff that’s said in the locker room that’s supposed to stay inside the locker room. It’s a brotherhood that is like no other brotherhood, because there are so many different backgrounds as far as race that come though and NFL locker room. You get to experience people from all walks of the world, and it’s a brotherhood where if you love one another, you get to the point where you are used to people and how people are, and things that come up. There’s stuff that’s said in the locker room that you couldn’t say at a normal job, but it’s normal in an NFL locker room. People outside wouldn’t understand. Every athlete understands what I’m saying to you, because they’ve been a part of it. It’s crazy what’s going on and it should have never gotten out the locker room, that’s my opinion.
Abe Schwadron is the Online Editor of TDdaily.com. Follow him on Twitter @abe_squad. Photo Courtesy of 25YearsofEpiPen.com.