If Adrian Peterson loses his appeal, the banished Minnesota Vikings star won't play another game before his 30th birthday in March, barring a rapid and successful legal challenge.
But Peterson doesn't buy the notion that age, the legal turmoil that touched off a fight with the NFL or the loss of nearly an entire season have erased his chances to accomplish his long-established goal of becoming the league's all-time leading rusher.
"People say, 'Oh, running back hits 34, 35 (and he's done). When you get to 30, you go down.' I don't believe that," Peterson told USA TODAY Sports on Nov. 20, in his only extended interview since his legal troubles began nearly three months ago.
"I believe I'm just now here in my prime. I believe these next five or six years – or however long I decide to play – it's going to be the same production and I'm going to do even better than I did before in my 20s."
Appeals officer Harold Henderson this week heard Peterson's case to vacate the NFL's decision to suspend him Nov. 18 for at least the rest of this season, with reinstatement no sooner than April 15, 2015. Henderson encouraged both sides to settle, but the league had not made a formal offer as of Friday morning, a person with knowledge of the situation told USA TODAY Sports.