Ever have one of those moments when you wish you'd had the presence of mind to knock on wood? It's just a superstitious action to try to keep from jinxing things. I've had a couple of those in the last year. They have been bad enough that I'm starting to regard them as portents of doom, like the Oracle of Delphi. The latest one has to do with the implications of the NFL's dealings with Adrian Peterson.
The Bad Beginning
Way back on Memorial Day I was just telling my dad that his car still seemed brand new even though he'd had two years. In retrospect, that may have jinxed things. We piled into the car after a holiday family gathering, drove about a mile, and a white-tailed deer promptly jumped out of nowhere to run smack into us, flip over the car, and land somewhere behind us in a ditch before running off into the brush and leaving us staring at the sagging windshield and crunched hood of the car. Logically, I know that an off-hand comment about the car still having "new car smell" didn't summon the furry, four-legged wrecking ball, but the timing didn't make me feel logical.
This is why I know I should have known better than to say what I said that sticky August afternoon at Minnesota Vikings Training Camp in Mankato.
And Things Get A Little Worse
After afternoon practices at training camp the players leaving the field sign autographs for people and talk to the reporters who wait like ambush predators in the makeshift courtyard between the practice fields and the street. Because of his enormous popularity, as soon as he walked off the field Adrian Peterson had an escort from the Vikings PR staff. On that day his PR person introduced him to a young man who was named (nope, not making this up) Adrian Petersen. It seems Peterson's rehab from ACL surgery had inspired this man in his own rehab after his right leg was amputated. Peterson and Petersen talked, shook hands, and eventually parted--Petersen to glow about the encounter with his favorite football player and Peterson to meet more fans.
Following meeting his similarly-named fan, Peterson signed autographs and posed for pictures with some of the sick and wheelchair bound fans who where in the courtyard between the practice fields and the street. One little girl propped in her wheelchair was beside herself with glee when Peterson signed a football for her, but when he posed for a picture with her and then kissed the top of her head she couldn't contain her joy, kissing her Adrian Peterson-signed football as he left.
You'd think that would have been enough to complete his Jesus-like post-practice rounds, but no. Instead of letting his PR escort wave off the fans so he could get a shower and some down time, Peterson cruised the autograph line where fans stood three-deep waving hats, jerseys, footballs, and posters for him to sign.
Keep in mind what I had just witnessed and try not to judge me too harshly, but I murmured to myself, "He's almost too good to be true. If anything ever happens to knock him off this pedestal, the fallout is going to be bad. Epically bad."
And it was. It still is.
Over? Not Yet.
Peterson's criminal case in Texas on charges of child injury has finally been settled, but his woes with the NFL drag on. Although I'm a ghost over here, I keep busy with the Daily Norseman Facebook page. Part of that work involves tagging individuals and organizations in posts to increase post reach. When the news of Adrian Peterson's indictment for child injury and I had to tag his name in the story posts of the developing legal drama, I watched the likes on Peterson's Facebook page tank from millions down to thousands in a matter of days. But an interesting thing has occurred as the NFL has toyed with how best to make an example out of Peterson, it has made Peterson a sympathetic figure. Granted, this is a small indicator, but I have watched his Facebook likes steadily creep upwards again. He's still far, far below where he was before his indictment, but this seems to be proof, granted small proof, that he's rebounding in the court of public opinion as his grievances and appeals with the NFL play out on the news.
So here's my latest knock on wood moment, and forgive me if I'm getting a little punchy about these moments, but as I read part of Executive Vice President of the National Football League, Troy Vincent's testimony I may or may not have said, "Now the NFL Players Association will go to war."
Yeah, I've been kicking myself for that one.
What's The Worst That Could Happen?
We remember the nastiness that was the last NFL lockout in 2011 as the players negotiated with the league for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. If, as it appears from Vincent's testimony, the NFL is playing fast and loose with the CBA, the NFLPA could use that as ammunition for an ugly labor fight that could make the 2011 lockout look like a vacation to the Amalfi Coast.
Now that might not happen. After all, why would the NFLPA be at all interested in a case where a player went onto the NFL's Exempt/Commissioners Permission List being told he would not be subject to a new personal conduct policy only to have NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell punish him, at best, with a new personal conduct policy that was slapped together in the wake of the League's mishandling of the Ray Rice situation, and, at worst, with whatever idea Goodell's pulled out of his posterior that day?
See, no trouble brewing at all. Clearly, I'm worried about nothing and this case couldn't possibly have serious implications for NFL labor relations. NFLPA President Eric Winston and Executive Director DeMaurice Smith won't mind at all that an, apparently, arbitrary punishment is being applied to one of the league's highest-profile running backs in a process that has been as transparent as fudge.
Brace yourselves football fans, this could get ugly. Okay, uglier. Care to join me in knocking on wood?