Adrian Peterson has been in the middle of the offseason storm for the Minnesota Vikings so far in 2015 — with the team failing to make a splash in free agency (they rarely have under Rick Spielman), Peterson has been the focus of the team, all the media and subsequently, the fans.
Will the heralded, whiny running back return to the purple next season? Speculation was high the Vikings would ship out the disgruntled running back and his massive contract for draft picks — when the demand didn’t meet the speculation come free agency, and the Vikings organization continued to hammer the notion they planned on utilizing Peterson’s talents in 2015, it became a bit more clear the running back would remain a Viking. Though still not a certainty he won’t still be traded, Peterson and his blockhead agent have made quite the fuss in the media about Peterson not being moved to another NFL roster.
Most fans like myself have simply thought Peterson should quit his whining and absolutely stop acting like he is the victim in this entire situation — everything that has happened to Peterson up to this point is a direct result of his own actions.
Now, a former NFL player, Tim Watson (who?) has taken to his blog to write an open letter to Peterson, mirroring many of the sentiments of myself and other Vikings fans. Check out his awesome open letter below.
Let me first of all start this letter off by sharing that I’m a huge fan of what you have been able to do as a football player. Your style of play and resulting performances have been nothing short of spectacular since you became a national brand as a freshman at Oklahoma. But, a man of your stature (physically, financially, and socially) must certainly get those types of compliments all the time. However, the unfortunate ancillary consequence of your “bigger than life” persona is that very seldom, if at all, will people share painful truths with you that present counterpoints to a stance you might have on a particular issue. As a member of our very select fraternity of both current and former NFL players, I’m not one who’s subject to such a constraint. I actually feel that we have an obligation to be real with one another within this unique assembly. As a rookie 6th Round Draft pick in 1993, I remember a couple of my veteran teammates in Kansas City who took enough time and care with me to teach me the ropes and keep me out of trouble. The first was the late great Derrick Thomas. Derrick took me under his wing from the moment I arrived as a practice player with the Chiefs after I was released by Green Bay following only the 2nd week of that season. He showed me around the city; including alerting me where I should and should not go. Then there was the veteran safety who I was basically brought in to replace, Martin Bayless. Not only did Martin not feel threatened by my presence, he treated me like a little brother: helping me pay for Saturday team meals, treating me to unlimited orders of gear from his “No Fear” apparel contract, and teaching me the intricacies of our defense. I’m sharing my experience with a couple of players who preceded me to give some context around the sentiment in which I’m delivering this letter to you.
Of course there is a high likelihood that you will never see this letter. However, as I’ve watched, read, and heard about the many publicly revealed aspects of your case with your son, as well as the current stand-off with the Minnesota Vikings, I felt a 3rd party observation without an emotional attachment might be useful to hopefully provide you with some perspective. Now, venturing back to the initial incident that started your current journey, I think you would agree now that the level of corporal punishment you inflicted upon your son was over the top. Based upon your own public statements of contrition for what you did, we as public observers can either take your word as genuine or continue to cast doubt. I personally took your word to be your bond. Now this is where things get a little cloudy for most of us on the outside. But, from what we’re hearing in reports, it appears that you (and your wife) felt betrayed by the Minnesota Vikings because of the way someone within the organization handled the aftermath of the case. Many reports are that you felt like “they didn’t have your back!” However, on the other side of the story, the Minnesota Vikings players, Head Coach, and General Manager consistently share words of support for you in public interviews, and they reiterate their gleeful anticipation of having you back on the field as a Minnesota Viking.
As players, when it comes to the business of the game, most of us proclaim to never “count other players’ money!” In other words, we all recognize the volatility of an NFL career, so the most you can get, as soon as you can get it, the better. But, I think most are aware that the level of compensation you’ve been able to receive (on and off the field) has afforded you, your family, and probably some descendents to come, a rather financially secure lifestyle. I only reference that to say your “money in the bank” may also be clouding your judgement regarding the business elements of this situation. Again, we don’t know exactly what occurred that’s causing you and your wife angst about continuing with the Vikings. However, what I and many others, do know is that turbulent emotions are the biggest deceivers of logic. Based upon the known facts of this case, it really doesn’t appear that you and your wife are allowing logic to drive your decisions. Simply put, with the timing of your “reckless child injury” charges coming on the tail-end of the Ray Rice “domestic violence” case, what were your expectations of the NFL and/or the Minnesota Vikings? Of course the NFL had to take some sort of action, and the Vikings had to comply. Lest you forget that the NFL is an $11+ Billion per year business that thrives on sponsorship, marketing deals, and sales to the general public. So it is without a doubt that the sentiment of the general public towards your case must be considered as it relates to the action taken by the league. Yet and still, you were able to make a considerable salary for the 2014 season. I’d have you imagine the same scenario happening with a teacher (making $40K per year), or a local news anchor (making $80K per year). Chances are that both of these two individuals would have lost their jobs under the public pressure from such a case as yours. However, their ability to care for their families financially would have likely resulted in much graver results than your situation.
So, Adrian, I just don’t see how you and/or your wife are applying reason to this situation? Were it not for the fact that you are Adrian Peterson, and still have immense physical talent (as was proven by your amazing return in 2013 from an ACL injury), it is highly likely that the results of this situation would be much different. In other words, a lesser player would no longer have a spot in the NFL with any team, not to mention the Minnesota Vikings. But, not only are the Vikings ready to have you back in the fold leading their rushing attack, but they are willing to pay you a salary of $12,750,000.00 in so doing. Additionally, you’ll receive a $250,000.00 bonus just to work out. Honestly, your workout bonus is more than the salary that a large majority of players in the league made during an entire season when I played in the 90’s. You must know what you mean as a player to the Vikings? Also, you must know that the power is with them, not you? But, why on earth would a team like the Minnesota Vikings let their best player over the past decade (and arguably in the history of the organization) go through either a trade or waiver? That would make absolutely no football business sense whatsoever! So, I don’t know if you have lost touch with reality because you’ve spent so much time on the financial “mountaintop,” but from the public’s perspective, it certainly appears that way!
In closing, I just ask that you consider all the elements of this entire situation. Neither the NFL, nor the Vikings caused this to occur. This is a matter yet to be decided because of a mistake you made, not them. April 15th is just around the corner as the date given by the NFL for earliest consideration of your return. So, as a concerned brother only wanting the best for you and yours, I implore you and your wife to take the same empathetic position towards the Minnesota Vikings organization that you’d desire. Put yourself in theirs and the NFL’s shoes as it relates to your case, and utilizing genuine intellectual honesty, what exactly would you have done differently towards you that amounts to fair/unfair treatment? I believe that if you are able to truly release yourself from emotional hurt, and decide logically, you’ll discover the Minnesota Vikings organization is not your enemy!
Photo courtesy of: Matthew Deery