Hall of FameSports

Bo Jackson vs Adrian Peterson. Which Running Back do you pick?

By January 12, 2014June 18th, 2018No Comments

bo-jackson-vs-adrian-petersonAs Bacon Sports’ resident stat geek, I’m going to put two amazing athletes to the tale of the tape and see who comes out on top. For our inaugural matchup of Would You Rather we’re pitting the Bacon Sports favorite and my personal spirit animal, Bo Jackson, against the indefatigable, remorseless freight train that is Adrian Peterson.

The rules here are simple: we measure each of their respective strengths and weaknesses, and come up with an answer of who we would rather take. This week, we’re assuming that your team is suiting up for a playoff game, and you get to choose the running back. Try to contain your excitement.

Note: All stats taken from Pro Football Reference

Bo Jackson
Image Source: Football Perspective

Height: 6’1”
Weight: 227 lbs
40 time: 4.12 seconds *hand-timed* (NFL Combine started using computer timing in 2000)

Ridiculous Highlights:

When Bo played football, he was a force of nature. The quintessential “WOW!” playmaker, Jackson had an unmatched blend of speed and power. No run seemed to be beyond his ability, and he always seemed to make it seem almost effortless.

But unfortunately, our memories are somewhat clouded by his awe-inspiring “Bo-ness.” In reality, Jackson was never a truly great running back. Yes, injuries sapped him of his ability too early, and of course the fact he also played baseball means he was never fully healthy and at full bore on the NFL gridiron, but the stats are entirely underwhelming when you look at it under a microscope.

Bo never cracked the 1,000 yard mark in a season, never scored more than 5 rushing touchdowns in a season, and was never a real factor in the passing game. The only thing that really stands out are that in 3 of his 4 seasons (yes, he only played 4 seasons in the NFL) he had the NFL’s longest run. He finished his career averaging 5.4 yards per carry, which is great, but only barely cracks the top 10, and belies the fact he had less than 3,000 rushing yards in his entire career.

No one can honestly debate that Bo wasn’t a phenomenal, once-in-a-generation athletic specimen, but if I’m suiting up a running back for a playoff game, I’m probably going with All Day.

Adrian Peterson
Image Source: Minn Post

Height: 6’2”
Weight: 217 lbs
40 time: 4.4 seconds

Ridiculous Highlights:

Watching Adrian Peterson run is basically like looking at a Purple-clad version of Jackson. Like Bo, AD has an almost unfair combination of size and speed. Sometimes he looks like someone messed with the ability sliders in Madden. But Jackson NEVER had a season like what Peterson put up normally. In fact, Jackson’s best statistical season, 1989, he rushed for 950 yards and 4 touchdowns. Peterson has never rushed for fewer than 970 yards or fewer than 10 touchdowns.

I came into this little thought-experiment expecting this to be a pretty close comparison. However, none of the stats really make this a contest, unless you want to get into a semantics argument about yards per carry. And even then, Jackson never averaged 6 yards a carry in a single season, which Peterson did last year. I know that last year was remarkable, possibly the best year ever by a running back, but even discounting that (which you shouldn’t considering Peterson was coming off major knee surgery) Peterson’s stats are still vastly superior to Bo’s. Now, if we can only see him run up a wall in Kansas City to make a play at the warning track.


It’s Peterson by a landslide. I wish this were closer. Tecmo Bo wishes this were closer, but the numbers rarely lie. I’m suiting up the Purple Jesus, and I wouldn’t even think twice.

If you have any suggestions for a future Would You Rather please put it in the comments and message me on Twitter @subtlehperbole.




Matt Brockway

Matt Brockway

Matt Brockway is a freelance writer from Knoxville, TN. He studied music education at the University of North Texas, where he learned the joys and agonies of cheering for a Sun Belt team. He is the resident Sports Nerd for Bacon Sports, and holds the distinction of having seen Pedro Martinez pitch for the Expos in Olympic Stadium. This was not a fever dream. THIS ACTUALLY HAPPENED.