There have been a million thoughts on the subject of Adrian Peterson and his arrest for child neglect. I don't for a second think that I have the best take on the situation, or frankly even care if anyone reads this. But I need to get my thoughts down and push them out there for the cathartic release that will follow. Feel free to ignore, agree, disagree, whatever.
I've been following this team for a relatively short about of time compared to a lot of fans: only 10 years. But in that 10 years I've witnessed a lot of crazy stuff off the field from the Love Boat scandal, to Chris Cook's alleged domestic violence and now this Adrian Peterson situation. Nothing has hit me blind-sided quite like this incident has. I wasn't prepared. I didn't see it coming. Just a few days ago I said that if Vikings had to deal with a Ray Rice situation, I'm not sure what I would do. I said, "If everything was switched, and it had been Adrian Peterson instead of Ray Rice, I'd probably have to denounce any kind of support for Peterson and seriously question my loyalty to the Vikings and NFL football." And guess what, here we are. And I'm stunned.
But you know what? It's been a learning experience for me. The thing that I think gets lost in this whole affair is that NFL players are people, pure and simple. They are the same as the neighbor next door, your co-worker, your best friend, that acquaintance you keep running into at that restaurant. They are no different than me or you in that they are just regular people. Sure, they do extraordinary things on the football field, earn massive sums of money and are able to afford "stuff" that most of us cannot. Some of them receive a level of fame that most of us never will. But at the end of the day, despite those individual differences, they are human beings just like us. They make mistakes like we all do. And yet, many of us put them up on pedestals and hold them to a higher standard because of that fame anyway...one that very few of us could ever meet.
When I was at training camp for the first time ever this past July, I was given unparalleled access to the team. I was mere feet away from the players. I was able to walk next to them and even talk with them. And I was reminded by this fact even more: they are regular people. I see this play out in the music world too. I've shared the stage with some pretty famous musicians and got a chance to talk with them and "hang" afterwards and through all of this I'm reminded by one thing: fame is a social construct that gives people a fake "public" façade, and hides who they really are. We don't get to see the "real" Adrian Peterson. We generally don't get to see any of these football players as they really are. Even a show like "Hard Knocks" doesn't reveal the true person 100%. Those shows are edited like any other show to depict people how the editors and producers want them to be shown. The only people that know the real Adrian Peterson are his close friends and family. The one that is depicted as "Mr. Perfect", the "Face of the Vikings franchise" and a major spokesperson for the NFL: that is not the real Adrian Peterson. It may very well be one side of Adrian, but what about this other side? What about this side that supports corporal punishment, and took it too far to the point where he was arrested for child neglect? What about the one that was arrested for driving over 40 MPH above the speed limit? We don't generally get to see that side of the players very often.
If nothing else, this whole incident was a good reminder for me that these football players should not be role models, especially not for our kids. We shouldn't hold them to a higher standard, because if we continue to do so: THEY WILL FAIL US. They are just regular people, playing a game that entertains us fans. Pure and simple. I've only ever owned one Vikings jersey in my relatively short fandom: an Adrian Peterson jersey. And after this whole snafu, I am now understanding why MarkSP18 says all time: I will never wear another man's name on my back. If the Vikings offer some kind of jersey exchange, I won't even take advantage of it. I think my jersey will just be sold to whomever poor sap wants to pony up for it. I have decided I will never be let down as a fan again, because I will refuse to hold any NFL player up on a pedestal. My expectations of all NFL players will now be less than nothing from this point forward, because I refuse to admire, respect or be inspired by an NFL player ever again. Can I still be entertained by them? Yes. Will I still cheer for the Minnesota Vikings? Yes. But I will never own a jersey with another man's name printed on it, or hold any NFL player in any higher regard than anyone else. Nor will I allow my kids to either. Adrian Peterson was supposed to be the gold standard for this kind of thing. If even he isn't immune to making mistakes, then we can no longer hold NFL players up to this kind of standard. If we continue to worship at the Alter of the NFL, we will continually be let down, because these players are no better than the rest of us.
So now what? Peterson has been arrested and released by police, and the Vikings deactivated him for the game this Sunday. For as much information has come out about the situation, the Vikings know at least the same amount of information (if not even more details). Based on how similar events have unfolded across the NFL and with the Vikings, Peterson will be facing a suspension of some kind: either by the team or by the league itself. Depending on how the the legal process plays out in Texas, he may even face jail time. If Ray Rice was suspended indefinitely by the NFL for his situation, Peterson probably will be too, because his incident involves a 4-year old child. And that's fine with me. Peterson will get no special treatment or consideration from me. He's no longer the "Mr. Perfect", "Face of the franchise" to me...and you know what? He never should have been. No player should be. I'm glad the child wasn't more seriously injured, and I'm hopeful that Adrian Peterson can get some counseling and learn that the way he was raised and disciplined was not healthy. I'd hope that for any person.
"AD" and everything that moniker entails is dead to me, and it's time to move on. Next man up as they say. Joe Banyard looked pretty good in training camp and the Preseason, and Jerick McKinnon has a ton of potential too. Maybe this will be Matt Asiata's big break to show everyone just what kind of player he can be. Neither probably has the athletic prowess of Adrian Peterson, but hopefully they're better people who won't jeopardize their ability to stay on the field for the rest of the season. I hope the other guys on the team can wrap their heads around this situation and stay focused to compete in the game this weekend. If I were on the team, I know it would be difficult to stay focused and I'm sure the players are talking about whether or not they support corporal punishment and whether they believe that Peterson went over the line or not...just the same as we all are. You know the Patriots will be prepared and ready for the game...I hope the Vikings can be too.
So, goodbye Adrian Peterson. And Skol Vikings!