- Graham Bensinger, Contributing Writer, ESPN.com
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Graham Bensinger interviews high-profile prospects leading up to this weekend's NFL draft. Today, he checks in with Oklahoma running back Adrian Peterson.
Graham Bensinger: The last time we spoke was right before you were starting to visit teams. How did that go?
Adrian Peterson: It went really good. I enjoyed the process of having the opportunity to take all of the visits. It was great to meet the coaches and some of the players that I grew up watching. It was a long, draining process, but it was exciting and worth it.
Bensinger: Who were you most excited to meet?
Peterson: Jon Gruden.
Bensinger: Who did you least expect to meet?
Peterson: Michael Irvin
Bensinger: How was he?
Peterson: Real cool. He was funny and laid-back. He gave me some pointers and we exchanged numbers.
Bensinger: If you were forced to pick the team that's most likely to select you, which would it be?
Peterson: They have definitely showed a lot of interest. They need a running back and I'm predicted to go there, also.
Bensinger: How did the visit with the Browns go?
Peterson: It went pretty good. They're looking for a player to come in and help turn things around. The head coach, GM, and the running backs coach all showed a lot of interest in me. It was just a good feeling.
Bensinger: Flaws are searched for when you're a projected top draft pick. We've previously discussed people calling you injury prone and I know you think that notion is ridiculous. How do you respond to those who think that you're more susceptible to injury because you go full speed all of the time?
Peterson: That's why I'm in the position I'm in now. That's why I'll be in the top five. It's for running hard and being a very prepared person.
Bensinger: It's just recently been reported that your marketing agent, Bill Henkel, faces felony charges of commercial bribery and theft. What has he said to you?
Peterson: There was some confidential stuff that was said, but it was something that was done separately with another player. It has nothing to do with me personally.
Bensinger: He hasn't been convicted, but how frustrating is it that your name has been attached to all of the news stories about it?
Peterson: It's very frustrating. They try to spice up the news as much as they can. It's just sad that my name has to be thrown in this when I had nothing to do with it. People are just trying to get a story and make their money. It's sad.
Bensinger: Will you keep him as your marketing agent?
Peterson: Yeah, for the time being. Yeah.
Bensinger: How's New York?
Peterson: I'm really enjoying it. I was here a couple weeks ago for a marketing deal and then during my freshman year for the Heisman Trophy presentation. I'm beginning to get kind of familiar with the city.
Bensinger: What are you most looking forward to doing?
Peterson: It's always cool to be in Times Square at night and watching all of the lights. I'm also looking forward to my family coming here. They want to check out the Nike bulletin board that was just put up with me in it.
Bensinger: How much family is coming?
Peterson: I have 19 people coming down! I got my uncle, mom, grandmother, aunt, brothers, sisters, and others. It's a once-in-a-lifetime ordeal, so I'm making the best of it.
Bensinger: You didn't have a lot of money growing up. I read that you sometimes even had to sleep in a car. Given that, how strange is it to consider how much money you'll soon be worth?
Peterson: It's definitely strange when you consider all that I've been through in my life. It's truly a blessing that the path has led me to where I am now. I wouldn't be able to be here right now without God leading me the whole way.
Bensinger: What do you plan to do with the money? How will you splurge?
Peterson: The first thing is to take care of my mom. I plan to get her a nice house and car. I want to get her set up and established. Then, I might go spoil myself a little bit before I settle down, get everything situated, and start managing my money right.
Bensinger: How proud would your brother Brian be of you? [Brian, who was a year older than Adrian, was killed by a drunken driver when he was 8 years old.]
Peterson: Man, he would be proud. I've been through a lot growing up and there were a lot of different directions that my life could have gone. I thank God that I've made the right decisions and thank God that he's gotten me out of a lot of difficult situations that could have caused my life to go south. I know right now Brian would be extremely happy.
Graham Bensinger is a regular contributor to ESPN.com. Visit his Web site at: TheGBShow.com. You can e-mail him at email@example.com
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