Former Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson offered some words of encouragement to New York Giants star Saquon Barkley approaching the Giants’ Super Wild Card Weekend matchup with the Vikings on Sunday.
Barkley revealed he had contacted Peterson back in 2020 for advice on recovering from a torn ACL — drawing inspiration from Peterson’s 2012 Most Valuable Player campaign where he rushed for over 2,000 yards after returning from an ACL tear in just eight months.
The two have remained close ever since, with Peterson texting Barkley this week approaching a matchup against Peterson’s Vikings.
“He had great advice as someone I could lean on,” Barkley said in a January 12 press conference. “Pretty cool when you just look at your phone and there’s a text from AP saying, ‘Congrats. Happy for you. Go kill it in the playoffs.’
“To get a text like that from one of the greats, it really means a lot,” Barkley said.
Reporters found the words of encouragement especially interesting considering Peterson put his feelings aside about Barkley playing the team that he carved his legacy with.
Giants RB Saquon Barkley Star Struck by Vikings RB Adrian Peterson’s Advice His Rookie Year
Selected No. 2 overall in the 2018 draft, Barkley was the highest-drafted running back since 2006 — even higher than Peterson who was picked seventh overall in 2007.
Meeting Peterson for the first time in a game against the Washington Commanders his rookie year, Barkley was wide-eyed, taking in all the wisdom he could from the future Hall of Famer.
“You got it, man. Keep putting your best foot forward. Sky is the limit for you, man.” Peterson told Barkley in an on-field conversation captured in 2018. “You really have the talent. It’s remarkable to see. Stay focused. Keep grinding.”
Barkley went on that season to rack up 2,028 yards from scrimmage, becoming the third rookie and second-youngest player to surpass the 2,000-yard mark at the age of 21, per Pro Football Reference.
Barkley’s career took a downturn after his ACL tear two games into the 2020 season. However, since recovering, he’s missed just three games due to injury the past two seasons. Barkley tied for a career-high 352 touches in 16 games this season, tallying 1,650 all-purpose yards and 10 touchdowns to help the Giants reach their first playoff appearance since 2016.
He was rested in their season finale against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Vikings Defense Will Sell Out to Stop Giants RB Saquon Barkley
If Minnesota’s Week 16 victory over the Giants is any indicator of how the Vikings will play, Barkley will be a high priority for the defense.
The Vikings held Barkley without an explosive run for the majority of the game before he broke through for a 27-yard touchdown scamper to give his team a 24-22 lead with 2:07 left in the fourth quarter.
Barkley’s a home-run threat every time he touches the ball, and New York will do everything in its power to give him as many opportunities as possible in the first playoff game of his career. Barkley saw the third-most touches of any player in the league. He totaled 295 carries in 16 games and also secured a team-leading 57 receptions.
Making Barkley one-dimensional will be vital for the Vikings — be it stopping him on the ground or limiting his upside as a receiver.