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The Big Shake: Adrian Peterson’s Purple Harvest

The Big Shake: Adrian Peterson’s Purple Harvest

“To get what he wanted, a man had to give other people what they wanted.”
― Dashiell Hammett, Red Harvest

Minnesota Viking running back Adrian Peterson will make his pre-season debut on Sunday in the bay area against the NFC champion San Francisco 49ers. Yes, it’s only an exhibition, but fans want to see “All Day” shake, rattle and roll as Minnesota sports a new look and will contend for the NFC crown. Peterson has been in the headlines recently after predicting that he will break Emmitt Smith’s NFL rushing record of 18, 355 yards. Who are we to doubt Peterson after his remarkable 2012 season in which he returned from a torn ACL and ran for 2,097 yards? His career total of 8,849 yards doesn’t quite put him at the halfway point of reaching Smith, but if Peterson can continue to average six yards a carry as he did in 2012, then he may pass the great Cowboy in 2017 as he predicted.

What is a “Purple Harvest”? If you are familiar with the pulp fiction novels of Dashiell Hammett (not Tarantino’s 1994 film) then you may remember the famous novel Red Harvest and the main character, “The Continental Op”, who works for the Pinkerton Detective Agency in San Francisco. Adrian Peterson has a problem to solve in the modern day sports version of “Poisonville”. Sorry, Minneapolis.

I heard he was comin’ to town. The Big Shake. A man among boys. A handshake that makes grown men cry. He’s on the level, that guy, but I’m gonna make sure. You can bet on that.

Peterson has his sights set on rushing for 2,500 yards in 2013 and breaking Eric Dickerson’s single-season record of 2,105. A.P. fell eight yards short last season in the finale against Green Bay, however NFL fans across the country were stunned by the phenomenal comeback and recovery after tearing both his ACL and MCL in December 2011.

I had a steak at John’s Grill and talked to a dame at the bar. What do you know about The Big Shake, I asked. Oh, don’t bother me fella, she says. All I know is that he’s on the way. I put down another drink and walked back to the agency across the street.

Is Peterson on something or onto something? I have never once believed that #28 has been using performance enhancing drugs, but naturally, there is speculation from players around the league most likely in jest. We all want to know if Peterson can continue to produce Hall of Fame numbers and become the best running back ever to play the game.

It’s been raining heavy and I can’t can pin it down. Purple rain. I made my way back home on Post Street and found a couple screwballs talkin’ outside. Whaddya know? He’s here. The Big Shake.

In Minnesota, there are fans across the state who are thrilled by Peterson’s confidence and commitment to excellence, but at the end of the season the goal is to reach the playoffs and have a shot at reaching the Super Bowl in New York. The roster looks great on paper, but the lingering doubts revolve around the play of Christian Ponder. The third year quarterback has new weapons in 2013 with WR Greg Jennings and first round draft pick WR Cordarelle Patterson. The Vikings will now be able to spread the offense and give Adrian Peterson more room to move in the backfield and achieve his goal.

My kitchen was a mess and I dialed up my sources. The Big Shake will be in town tomorrow. How can I know for sure? I had a steak and topped it off with a bourbon. I’ll find out for sure what this fella is all about. People were screaming out on the street before I went to bed.

What is the goal, again? Peterson obviously wants to win ball games, but I would like to hear less talk about personal goals and more talk about how they are going to beat Green Bay, Detroit and Chicago. I want to hear less of Greg Jennings complaining about how Green Bay “brainwashed” him, and more talk about winning the NFC North. I want Christian Ponder to be known as an Pro Bowl quarterback, and not the husband of Samantha Steele-Ponder (good work though, Christian). I want Minneapolis radio personality Dan Cole of KFAN to talk less about A.V.A.T.A.R. Syndrome (Aggravated Vikings Anticipatory Traumatic Abandonment Reaction Syndrome) and more about booking plane tickets to New York City for the Super Bowl. “We’re comin’!”

I’m coming, I said, and slammed the phone down. A cabbie picked me up and I was in no mood to talk. You’re askin’ too many questions. Just drive, you, and get me to Candlestick.

Perhaps the most fascinating component of Adrian Peterson is his handshake. I have never experienced it but watched many cringe from its devastating power. What’s it all about? Intimidation? Control? It’s a frightening thought that a man can be physically and mentally rattled after meeting Adrian Peterson.

I made my way down the player hallway and there he was. The Big Shake. He doesn’t know me but I know him. What’s it all about? I’m going to find out. This ol’ dog has a few tricks left. You can bet on that.

Adrian Peterson. The Big Shake. There he was and he was walking straight towards me. What’s he gonna do, this one? He looks at me and smiles. I know what’s coming next. I’ve heard about it but he won’t fool me. Not this one. Here it comes. The Big Shake offered his hand and I looked him in the eyes. He stared back at me and smiled. I raised my hand out of my pocket and shook his hand. His eyes squinted. His face grimaced. The Big Shake, I said and twisted my hand. That’s not funny, he says to me. What do you have there? What do I have? Rings. I raised my hand and he stared at the objects on the inside of my fingers that had blocked his aggressive shake. Rings, I said. That’s not how you do it. That’s not how you do it, he says to me. Ok, show me how you do it, Big Shake. Show me how you do it.

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