NFL Free Agent Running Backs Le’Veon Bell, Adrian Peterson Set For July Boxing Exhibition In Los Angeles

by Patrick Norton

Adrian Peterson spent most of his illustrious NFL career chasing Frank Gore in rushing yards. Gore – who left the league after 2020 – owns third place on the all-time rushing yards list with 16,000. Peterson sits in fifth at 14,918 without his phone ringing for playing opportunities.

But Gore’s post-career hobby of boxing is proving less successful than his life as a pro football running back. A split-decision loss to former NBA guard Deron Williams last December prevented the blossoming of a secondary career.

While Peterson won’t catch Gore on the rushing list, the former MVP is throwing his hat into the boxing ring next month. On July 30 in Los Angeles at Arena, the 37-year-old takes on former three-time Pro Bowler Le’Veon Bell in a heavyweight exhibition.

For both backs, their careers – seem to have – ended as journeymen. After 10 seasons with the Minnesota Vikings, Adrian Peterson spent time traveling between conferences – taking snaps for the Arizona Cardinals, New Orleans Saints, Washington Redskins, Detroit Lions, Tennessee Titans and Seattle Seahawks.

Bell’s career in Pittsburgh ended with animosity toward the staff, teammates and fans, but the two-time All Pro never found a solid base again. Bouncing through the New York Jets, Kansas City Chiefs, Baltimore Ravens and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a once extremely promising career fizzled into irrelevance.

But both former footballers have a shot toward career rejuvenation in boxing. While this is their first soirée into the sport, it doesn’t count as a first official match. The exhibition designation prevents the contest from counting toward any future records.

How Adrian Peterson Beat the NFL Average “Shelf-Life” For a Running Back

Knee surgeries and suspensions pertaining to off-field matters gave the 37-year-old an opportunity most in his position don’t receive. For any pro, 167 games as a starting back in the NFL is an impressive feat. For Peterson, it wasn’t apparent his game was slowing until his release from Minnesota. Even then, the Canton-bound rusher spent two solid seasons in Washington and one in Detroit.

His career is an outlier for many success stories. However, Le’Veon Bell – once thought of as a premiere back – is obsolete at just the age of 30. Bell’s career hit a wall after five seasons, failing to surpass 800 rushing yards since 2017.

But Adrian Peterson credits the COVID-19 work stoppage for saving his tired legs, extending his career with the absence of extensive offseason workouts and zero preseason games. We’ll see if age or fatigued legs plays a factor in the battle at the end of next month.