GREEN BAY - There was a time in the not-so-distant past that athletes recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament often needed a year before resuming competition. Some of them took even longer.
On Sept. 9, 2012, running back Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings rushed for 84 yards and two touchdowns. Just 260 days had passed since he tore his ACL, or roughly nine months.
Peterson set a new — and often unreachable — standard.
"I would say the most important thing is praying; prayer really helped me," Peterson said on a conference call Wednesday. "Prayer and then second to that would be just the mental aspect of it. Just really knowing that it's a challenge, accepting that challenge for what it is, and grinding through the pain of coming back from an ACL injury. It was definitely mental more than anything else outside of prayer."
Last Sunday, Green Bay Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson returned to the field for a game more than a year after tearing his ACL in August of 2015. Peterson offered him some words of advice.
"He has to mentally understand that his ACL, that ligament in particular, is stronger than the one he didn't tear," Peterson said. "So pass that message on to him — that the one he tore is stronger than the one he didn't tear. So go out there and just cut it loose. You've got to play fast, you've got to have that confidence to understand that piece of it and know that I can go and out and not be impotent, and I'm still going to be good."