A guide to surviving the Adrian Peterson saga that might be helpful for fans, media, front office personnel, emotional agents and a certain former NFL MVP …
Step 1: Breathe.
Decisions, conclusions and reactions are so much better when made with a calm brain, not a hyper heart. It’s why Teddy Bridgewater seems to have a future and Christian Ponder does not.
Just when everyone appeared to be thinking that Peterson will definitely be returning to the Vikings, Peterson told ESPN.com that he was “uneasy” about returning to the Vikings. Then CBSSports.com reported that Peterson’s agent got into a spat with Rob Brzezinski, the Vikings’ lead contract negotiator and salary cap wizard, and concluded said spat by saying Peterson will never play for the Vikings again.
That reported statement seems to be all that was needed for everybody to now assume that Peterson will definitely never, ever return to the Vikings.
I’d caution people against assuming that a decision of this magnitude became final in the heat of an argument at the scouting combine. I’ve been through enough of these kinds of things to know that there is always an out for the team and the agent when a definitive statement like this is made or, in this case, reportedly made: BLAME THE MEDIA.
If the two sides patch things up, the media will be blamed for blowing things out of proportion. Unfortunately, that’s become an all-too easy sell.
So don’t get stuck on statements or reported statements during a situation as fluid as this one. How many times have we seen one side say one thing and then the opposite happens.
I remember the Vikings telling us that reports of Randy Moss being traded in 2004 were ludicrous. I also seem to remember that they told us that about a month before they traded Randy Moss.
2, Pay the man
If the Vikings want Peterson, they should just pay him what his contract states. Give him his $12 million. Take the $15 million cap hit. If Jared Allen was worth $17 million at the end of his contract, Peterson is worth at least $15 million.
If the Vikings didn’t want to pay Peterson that much, they should have released him last year. Why pay the down payment and then not move into the house?
And let’s all stop trying to shoehorn Peterson into the box where all the other 30-year-old running backs reside. The last time we jammed him in a box built for the typical human being, he ran for 2,097 yards the year after his left leg essentially fell off at the knee.
He’s not normal. Yes, he’d be the highest paid running back in the league. Well, why shouldn’t he be? He’s the best running back in the league and he’d be running “angry,” as Vikings GM Rick Spielman has said.
Yeah, the running back position has been de-valued. But greatness hasn’t been. Peterson came into the league in 2007. There have been eight MVPs awarded since then. Only one time did a quarterback not win the award. That was in 2012 when Peterson won it. When healthy, he’s as valuable as any non-QB in the league and more valuable than a lot of the QBs.
Pay the man.
3, Stay humble, Adrian
When Peterson says he’s “uneasy” about returning to the Vikings, he should try to view the situation from the other side as well. The Vikings were uneasy with him last year. Heck, even his staunchest supporters were uneasy with what he did. Even the people who believe in corporal punishment as a way to raise children were uneasy with Peterson going too far with his 4-year-old son.
To say it was uneasy all the way around would be an understatement. The Vikings had every right to sit down as an organization and talk this thing through before taking a public stance. And if you’ve ever been in a meeting at work, you know there are differing views before the ultimate direction is chosen.
And, frankly, in the team’s defense, it tried to bring him back a week after his indictment, but all heck broke loose. If you think the NFL didn’t play a major role in putting Peterson on the commissioner’s exempt list, you’re wrong.
The bottom line all these months later should be:
1, The Vikings want Peterson back, so pay him. 2, Fans, sponsors, governors and critics of what Peterson did should stand down because the man admitted his mistake and has now paid dearly for it. And, finally, 3, Peterson should stay humble, be thankful that he’ll get the second chance he deserves and, most of all, remember that he is responsible for all of this, including his own unease.
There is a nagging suspicion that Adrian Peterson, even as he approaches 30 in a month, is primed for a strong 2015 season. Peterson has always been best when motivated (see: his rookie year of 2007 after getting passed over in the draft and 2012, coming off the major knee injury), and this year he has the added benefit of rest.
(The counter-argument is that rest=rust and Peterson might not be in prime shape, but it’s a long time between now and September).
The practical Vikings fan might think, “If Peterson has 1 or 2 more good-to-great years left in him, it sure would be nice if they were in purple instead of another uniform.” With Teddy Bridgewater on a rookie contract, the Vikings aren’t paying their QB much and could theoretically afford to keep a running back with a very high cap number.
Another bit of logic — and history, since it happened with Randy Moss, Daunte Culpepper and Percy Harvin — suggests that once a relationship sours between the Vikings and a player, the next course of action is to part ways.
This might be a relationship damaged beyond repair on both sides. The Vikings are probably still uneasy about some of the public relations battle that would ensue by bringing Peterson back. Peterson — who brought all of this on himself, let’s not forget — is battling through a perceived slight from the Vikings because they apparently didn’t stand by him 100 percent as he faced scrutiny for whipping his young son.
Right and wrong is not hard to discern here, but it doesn’t matter much. Peterson’s stance gives the Vikings the “out” they quite possibly wanted anyway. It might make trading him a little harder, but it could make their decision even easier.
And maybe, as crazy as this would have sounded at this time last year, the two sides are simply better off moving on from each other.
P.S.: KG is with the Wolves, Torii Hunter is with the Twins and Peterson could soon be gone from the Vikings. Just another reminder to never say never.