Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson is one of the most dominant players in the NFL. He also knows a thing or two about fighting medical issues. After suffering a serious knee injury in 2011, he almost broke the single-season rushing record last season in one of the all-time great comebacks.
But before the 2012-13 season even started, Peterson had a scare. After a meal during training camp, he suffered a scary allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. To help Peterson, an athletic trainer gave him an EpiPen, an auto injector people can use to fight life-threatening allergic reactions. After that scary moment, Peterson partnered with the marketer of EpiPen to make sure people learn more about anaphylaxis.
Peterson recently talked with SI Kids about his allergic reaction, advice for young athletes who are battling injuries, and his ambitious goal to rush for 2,500 yards this season.
What happened to cause you to have such a serious allergic reaction?
[In 2012,] I had an allergic reaction called anaphylaxis after eating a couple bowls of gumbo after training camp practice. Threw down a couple bowls and then about 10 minutes later I started experiencing swelling in my eyes and my throat started to swell up on me. So I called my athletic trainer and I was like, “Hey, I’m having an allergic reaction to something.” I guess he heard it in my voice and he was, like, “OK, I’ll come right up.” Came up real fast, man, and he had the EpiPen with him and I administered the EpiPen into my right thigh and immediately I started to breathe better, the swelling started to go down, and most importantly I had the opportunity to go seek further assistance.
Now you carry two EpiPens with you at all times. Where do you keep them?
I keep them in my pocket. If I’m wearing a suit jacket, then inside my suit jacket. I’ve seen myself running around with a pair in my back pocket in my blue jeans, just the offseason as well, so you make sure that you’re keeping it around because you never know when that life-threatening allergic reaction could pop up on you, so that’s part of the game plan.
What have you been doing to spread the word about the EpiPen?
I’m partnering with Mylan Specialty for the [25-year anniversary of] FDA approval of the EpiPen Auto-Injector, and I’m working along with (television personality) Jo Frost to pretty much spread the word and people can have more information and facts about anaphylaxis and how to be better prepared if anaphylaxis occurs. We are also urging people to log on to 25yearsofepipen.com and upload a photo to show us your EpiPen wherever you go. By uploading a photo, Mylan Specialty will donate $25 to the leading non-profit allergy groups, up to a total of $25,000, so it's for a great cause, as well.
Also when you’re on the site you can find out a lot of the misperceptions, like adults don’t have to carry their EpiPen everywhere they go, that being diagnosed with anaphylaxis, you’re weak, which — I didn’t feel weak at all last year, I felt pretty strong. So it’s a lot of information that we're urging people to log on and find out about so they can be better prepared if anaphylaxis occurs.
You had a major knee injury in 2011, and then came back in 2012 and almost set the single-season rushing record. Do you have any advice for young athletes who are injured and working to get back to playing?
I would first tell them to really accept it for what it is, the injury I mean, and don’t really waste your thought process on thinking about what could’ve happened or the situation that you’re in, so mentally locking in on that. It is what it is. And then it comes to the hard work and really being dedicated to the hours in rehab you have to spend and then the hours you have to spend outside of rehab working that leg or whatever it is that you’re rehabbing in order to get it back working the way you need it to. Just really having the faith, making that your game plan and just doing it. I try to make it real simple with people, and that’s what it is. You’ve just got to do it. Because in life a lot of people, they say it and they talk about it but they don’t want to put the work in to accomplish what is they want to accomplish. So you get your game plan and you do it to the max with everything in you, you can’t help but be successful.
Speaking of success and goals, you want to rush for 2,500 yards this year. How did you come up with that number?
You hear people talk about 2,000 and Eric Dickerson’s record at (2,105 yards) and I just felt like [2,500] was a landmark that I think is possible to do, maybe more so than 90 percent of everybody else. So it was just something that I put in front of me to challenge myself. Now it’s up to me, doing my part as far as making sure that I’m ready to go and do our part as an offense as far as making sure that we’re all ready to go and we’re in sync and we’re being balanced. And then I feel like 2,500 is possible.
How would you react if you got to 2,500 yards?
I don’t know. I can't really… I can kind of sense it and feel it already, but you don’t really get the enjoyment until you actually accomplish it. So I think it’ll be a humbling time and definitely a blessing.
Photo courtesy 25YearsOfEpiPen.com