EDIT: Shortly after I published this story, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk cited a "source with knowledge of the situation" that says that the Vikings are 100% united behind Adrian Peterson. So, let's see how that works out. (Thanks to CJSkolVikings for tipping me off to the story in the comments.)
While we've all been waiting to see whether or not Adrian Peterson will be reinstated by the National Football League, there's one question that has been overlooked.
And that question is "Do the Minnesota Vikings want Adrian Peterson to come back?"
Well, the guys that Peterson shares a clubhouse with certainly want him back, according to reports. And it would be difficult to imagine that Mike Zimmer and Norv Turner wouldn't want him back. There's no doubt that on the field, Adrian Peterson is still an asset.
But, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, that doesn't mean that there's a consensus on the matter. According to Rapoport:
. . .there is an internal battle within the Minnesota Vikings. Some of their executives are divided on whether they want Adrian Peterson back immediately.
Rapoport then reiterates that the matter is being reviewed under the league's Personal Conduct Policy, which could carry a six-game suspension. . .one that Rapoport believes will be less after some sort of negotiation and compromise. That would put Peterson back on the field sometime in December.
I don't know which "executives" are on the side of not wanting Peterson back right away, whether it's Zygi and Mark Wilf or Rick Spielman or anyone else. As Di expressed about the matter on Twitter a little bit ago, it almost feels like the Vikings want Roger Goodell and the National Football League to do their dirty work for them and take the heat for any potential decision off of them. I don't know one way or the other if that's actually the case or not, but it does sort of have that feel.
The Vikings attempted to do the right thing with Peterson when this whole thing broke. Honestly, this was an unprecedented situation, and the Vikings clearly had no clue how to handle it. (Then again, it's even more clear that the National Football League still doesn't, which puts the Vikings above them, I think.) The opportunity to put Peterson on the Commissioner's Exempt list, like the Philadelphia Eagles did with Michael Vick a few years ago and the Carolina Panthers did with Greg Hardy in the wake of Peterson's situation, presented the best solution for the Vikings, for Peterson, and for the league.
I don't know what decision the Minnesota Vikings will make if and when Adrian Peterson is reinstated by the NFL and/or finished with whatever suspension he may or may not receive from the National Football League. But, in my opinion, it should be the Minnesota Vikings making the decision and not deferring to an incompetent regime that's clearly flying by the seat of their pants on that matter.
And no matter which decision the Minnesota Vikings make when it comes down to it, they're going to end up angering half of their fan base. If they bring Peterson back, there are going to be people that are angry and view them as condoning Peterson's actions, regardless of whether or not that's the case. If they choose not to, they're going to end up angering a lot of their fans who feel that Peterson has "done his time" on the matter and should be back on the field for the Vikings.
That's the fan base, though. . .and, if we're being honest with ourselves, only one of those two decisions would sit well with the people that, sadly, probably has significantly more influence over this situation than they should.
Ladies and gentlemen. . .I give you the corporate sponsors of the Minnesota Vikings.
The Vikings took a lot of heat for their handling of the Peterson situation, including the loss of a sponsorship from Radisson Hotels. After Peterson's no contest plea in his legal proceeding, he was also dropped by Nike as a spokesperson. (Pay no attention to U.S. Women's National Soccer Team goalie Hope Solo, who is facing domestic violence charges but, apparently, still has Nike's full support.)
If the Vikings bring Peterson back, whether it's immediately or after a suspension. . .I don't know how much it's going to matter. . .a lot of sponsors are going to be pretty angry about it, and will likely be quick to disassociate themselves from the Vikings and their support for Adrian Peterson. Sure, they might come back after the season is over, since Peterson isn't likely to be a Viking in 2015, minus a lot of good PR work and a contract renegotiation. Then again, they might not. If they don't, there will be other sponsors out there. . .Pepsi seems to have stepped in quite nicely after Radisson pulled their name off the Vikings' press conference backdrops.
(Incidentally, Mountain Dew is awesome and you should drink more of it. Also, recommend it to your friends.)
The Minnesota Vikings are going to have to step up and make a choice at some point over the course of the next couple of weeks. . .and, as I stated earlier, it should be their choice. Either they're going to bring Adrian Peterson back, or they're going to keep him on the sideline. They may have to make that choice as early as Monday, according to our friend Tom Pelissero.
What is that choice going to be? At this point, it may not be as clear cut as we all think.