During the last decade, there was only one non-quarterback who won the NFL’s Most Valuable Player award: Adrian Peterson. In 2012, the future Hall of Fame running back rushed for more than 2,000 yards, a year in which he was coming off a torn ACL.
Peterson’s MVP was arguably the 35-year-old’s top achievement — and one of the many reasons why he was named Monday to the NFL’s All-Decade team for the 2010s.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame 48-member selection committee had Peterson among the team’s eight unanimous selections.
The Redskins running back, who spent most of the decade with the Minnesota Vikings, joined Tom Brady, J.J. Watt, Aaron Donald, Von Miller, Joe Thomas, Marshal Yanda and Justin Tucker as the players to receive a vote on every ballot.
Peterson headlined a group of four rushers, along with Frank Gore, Marshawn Lynch and LeSean McCoy, to make the roster as a running back. Running back Darren Sproles was also named to the team’s “flex” position.
“The childhood dream continues,” Peterson tweeted. “None of this would have been possible without the help of my teammates, the coaching staff, and fans. Appreciate you all.”
Beyond the MVP season, Peterson had a long list of other reasons that made voting for him a no-brainer. From 2010-2019, Peterson led the league with 71 rushing touchdowns and was third in rushing yards with 9,732, trailing only McCoy and Gore.
With Washington, Peterson has also notably rejuvenated his career. Since joining Washington in 2018, Peterson has become the Redskins’ leading rusher in each of the last two seasons. In 2019, he led with 898 yards and five touchdowns in 15 games — a successful campaign that saw him climb the NFL’s record books.
During the season, Peterson passed Jim Brown and Walter Payton on the all-time touchdown list and currently sits at fifth. He also finished the year fifth all-time in rushing yards, leaping Curtis Martin, LaDainian Tomlinson and Jerome Bettis.It’s the turnaround that Peterson envisioned from the moment he signed with the Redskins, telling reporters he refused to be “put in a box.” Before he joined Washington, the perception was that Peterson was on his last legs.
After all, Peterson had a couple of forgettable stints with the New Orleans Saints and the Arizona Cardinals. His last few years with the Minnesota Vikings also were rocky as he was suspended in 2014 after he was charged with child abuse over disciplining his son with a wooden switch and missed 13 games in 2016 with a knee injury. The Vikings released Peterson in 2017.
But those years in the middle of the decade don’t take away from the fact that Peterson was a force in his prime.
In 2012, he powered through defenses for six yards a carry and averaged 131.1 yards per game. The latter was more than 24 other teams, and the fifth-best average in NFL history.
Peterson, meanwhile, was the only Redskin to make the All-Decade team. For the 2000s, Washington had three players — Champ Bailey, Jason Taylor and Shaun Alexander — make the list, a jump from the one (Darrell Green) they had in the 1990s.
Historically, the Redskins were best represented in the 1980s, when seven of their players — John Riggins, Art Monk, Joe Jacoby, Russ Grimm, Dave Butz, Mike Neims, Billy Johnson — made an All-Decade team.
The 2010s team featured a total of 53 players made up of offense, defense and special teams. New England’s Bill Belichick and Seattle’s Pete Carroll were selected as the team’s coaches.
The full list of the NFL’s All-Decade team, voted on by the 48-member selection committee of the Pro Football Hall of Fame:
quarterback Tom Brady (unanimous)
quarterback Aaron Rodgers
running back Frank Gore
running back Marshawn Lynch
running back LeSean McCoy
running back Adrian Peterson (unanimous)
wide receiver Antonio Brown
wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald
wide receiver Calvin Johnson
wide receiver Julio Jones
FLEX Darren Sproles
tight end Rob Gronkowski
tight end Travis Kelce
tackle Jason Peters
tackle Tyron Smith
tackle Joe Staley
tackle Joe Thomas (unanimous)
guard Jahri Evans
guard Logan Mankins
guard Zack Martin
guard Marshal Yanda (unanimous)
center Alex Mack
center Maurkice Pouncey
defensive end Calais Campbell
defensive end Cameron Jordan
defensive end Julius Peppers
defensive end J.J. Watt (unanimous)
defensive tackle Geno Atkins
defensive tackle Fletcher Cox
defensive tackle Aaron Donald (unanimous)
defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh
linebacker Chandler Jones
linebacker Luke Kuechly
linebacker Khalil Mack
linebacker Von Miller (unanimous)
linebacker Bobby Wagner
linebacker Patrick Willis
cornerback Patrick Peterson
cornerback Darrelle Revis
cornerback Richard Sherman
safety Eric Berry
safety Earl Thomas
safety Eric Weddle
defensive back Chris Harris Jr.
defensive back Tyrann Mathieu
punter Johnny Hekker
punter Shane Lechler
kicker Stephen Gostkowski
kicker Justin Tucker (unanimous)
punt returner Tyreek Hill
punt returner Darren Sproles
kickoff returner Devin Hester
kickoff returner Cordarrelle Patterson
Bill Belichick, New England Patriots
Pete Carroll, Seattle Seahawks