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Law of Unintended Consequences

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As you would expect, when Adrian Peterson likened the NFL owners' treatment of players to "modern-day slavery", he got people buzzing. One can only imagine the kind of attention that Peterson's uber-gaff would have attracted if the news wasn't currently overrun with updates about the devastation in Japan and that nation's looming nuclear crisis. Genuine human tragedy has a way of putting clumsy soundbites in their proper place.

You might remember me talking about my favorite sports writer from St. Paul's Pioneer Press, Tom Powers. I really enjoy his writing because he's kind of like a bizarre combination of my cranky uncle and humorist Dave Barry. Well, today, Powers sounded-off on Adrian Peterson's unfortunate choice of words and the entire stand-off between the players (and their union that supposedly doesn't exist) and the owners.

I'm glad Powers added his voice to this discussion because he brought out a point that I hadn't heard before. In making his ill-fated slavery comparison, Peterson did what a whole staff of NFL spin doctors couldn't accomplish, he made the NFL owners look like beleaguered parents having to put up with the antics of spoiled, childish players.

That gaffe was a boon for the owners who were otherwise going to have a difficult way of spinning their desire to take a much greater revenue percentage. Fans are more disposed to be on the players' side, we wear their jerseys and clamor for their autographs. Ever seen someone wear a Zygi or Mark Wilf jersey? With this one statement, Peterson may have shifted fan opinion.

Most of us have probably seen the entire quote from Peterson and know that he was saying intelligent things before and after he mentioned slavery. However, once he likened the relationship between owners and players to slavery, it wouldn't have mattered what else he said--that's all that anyone would mention. Unfortunately, Peterson's attempt to clarify and defend the players' position served only to benefit the owners.