Zygi Wilf was 'true to his word' about contract, Adrian Peterson says
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SAN DIEGO -- Adrian Peterson didn't know until Saturday morning his long-term contract extension with the Minnesota Vikings was complete.
But a promise owner Zygi Wilf made to him and linebacker Chad Greenway last November always stuck in the back of Peterson's mind as talks progressed behind the scenes.
"I ran into (Wilf) in the locker room," Peterson recalled on Saturday afternoon, hours after signing a seven-year deal that reportedly is worth up to $100 million.
"We were kind of going back and forth and he said, `Adrian, I just want you to know -- and he told Chad the same thing because he was right there -- he said, `I want to make sure you guys are going to remain Vikings for your careers.'
"He stayed true to that (Saturday). He stayed true to his word."
Peterson's deal came only five days after Greenway signed his own five-year extension, putting both core players under contract through the prime of their careers.
"(Wilf) looked at us with those eyes and said that," Peterson said. "So, yeah, it was something I remembered. I was like, `OK, yeah, we're going to see. We're going to see.'
"It's a fun story I shared with people and my family, and we got it done. That's what matters. I'm happy. That's all I can say. I'm excited."
As recently as Thursday, Peterson downplayed contract talks, saying he didn't think Greenway's deal impacted his own status. But Peterson admitted in a roughly 9-minute interview with three Twin Cities reporters on Saturday he knew talk about numbers heated up roughly two weeks ago.
"I was putting it under the radar," Peterson said. "I didn't want the main focus to be about the contract. Focusing on my job and what I have to do, and that was the best way to handle it, which was to say I've got my guys working on it and I'm doing my job."
The work between Peterson's agent, Ben Dogra, and Vikings vice president of football operations Rob Brzezinski was done by Saturday morning, allowing Peterson to sign before the team boarded its plane for Sunday's opener here against the Chargers.
Multiple reports said the seven-year contract included $36 million guaranteed, including $4 million specifically guaranteed for injury. Asked if he'll feel more comfortable playing with that type of financial security, Peterson chuckled.
"Yeah, of course," Peterson said. "You sit back and go, 'Hey, I've got 36 million guaranteed. That's not going anywhere.' I'm sure you'd be pretty comfortable, too.
"Comfortable, but not relaxed, because it's not going to take away from how I play this game, my passion about this game. I'm in this position because of how I play this game. But anytime you're making a business decision, you've got to factor all the things in -- even some of the things you don't want to think about.
"I don't think about injuries, but it's something you're going to factor in. So, I did that and we got a deal done. I'm happy."
Peterson arguably has been the best halfback in the NFL since he joined the Vikings as the No. 7 overall pick in the 2007 draft. Now he's being paid like it, too, outshooting the four-year, $53.5 million contract Tennessee star Chris Johnson received little more than a week ago.
"It means a lot, man," Peterson said. "It shows from ownership and just this organization, that they recognize that. They recognize the (player) that they have. It means a lot. But money don't make you -- it's hard work. Continuing to work hard and my focus is going to continue to be to help this team."
Peterson cited his relationship with coach Leslie Frazier, quality teammates around him and commitment from the Wilfs -- "They might not know exactly the ins and outs about football, but I know when someone is passionate," Peterson said -- to a build a championship team as factors in his decision not to wait for free agency.
So, does this Peterson believe this contract did what Wilf intended -- make him a Viking for life?
"I do," said Peterson, 26. "A seven-year deal, so I'll be what, like, 32? I feel like I can play a little longer than that, but that time will come. But I'm excited."