MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Former NFL MVP Adrian Peterson advocated for college athletes on Wednesday, saying they deserved to be paid for the millions of dollars they bring to school coffers and took aim at NBA commissioner Adam Silver's stated desire to require college players to spend two years in school before declaring for the draft.
Peterson said he felt a kinship with Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel as a fellow high-profile athlete who generated significant revenues while he was in school at Oklahoma.
"When I was in college, I know personally, as far as jersey sales and ticket sales, I helped make that university a lot of money," Peterson said during a conference call to promote Hyperice, a recovery icing device that he endorses. "Johnny Manziel helped make Texas A&M so much money. You're talking about championship games that he was able to lead those guys to. You're talking about jersey sales that he don't see a dime of."
Peterson has stated his opinion that college athletes should be paid before, but never so forcefully.
"I feel like as much money as universities make, I feel that some of that money should be given down to the players as well because we are the ones that are making this university money," Peterson said. "These bowl games? Without the players, how much money to do they make? None.
"Without the players how much money do they make? They make no money without the players."
And he didn't stop with college football. The NBA is giving serious consideration to requiring college players to stay in school for two years rather than the "one-and-done" requirements the league has right now.
"I hear that they're trying to make basketball players go two years to college," the 2012 MVP said, unprompted. "Wow. I wonder why? Just think about it. Imagine if LeBron James would've had to go to college for two years. How much money would that college have made off of LeBron James? They would've made so much money off LeBron James."
Peterson is still recovering from surgery to repair a groin injury that bothered him for much of last season. He downplayed the injury while he was playing last season, but admitted on Wednesday that it was more serious than he let on.
"I wasn't able to cut and be as elusive as I needed to be," Peterson said. "But just being the competitor that I am, I don't come out and say that. I just go out and try to get it done no matter what.
"I just feel like I was putting myself in too much of harm's way. I felt like I didn't really have the lateral movement, but I was still going to be able to kind of get outside the tackle box and get up field fast enough to prevent different situations that could possibly put me in a bad predicament."
Peterson finished the season with 1,266 yards and 10 touchdowns in 14 games, a very good year by most standards. But he was coming off 2,000-yard season and was hoping to be the first running back to break that barrier twice in a career. That pursuit was slowed when he injured his groin on Nov. 3. The foot injury came on Dec. 8 and he missed two of the final three games.
Peterson had surgery after the season and said Wednesday he wasn't yet ready to join the Vikings' offseason conditioning program, which started on Monday under new coach Mike Zimmer.
"Right now, the most important thing is getting healthy," Peterson said. "That's what I'm doing. I'm rehabbing, I'm working out, still, trying to get the body back to where it needs to be."
Peterson said he was looking forward to joining his teammates in the program once his body is deemed ready, but he couldn't yet put a timeline on when that will be.
"I can't sit here and say I'm back right now," Peterson said. "But I'm not far off at all."