Since Adrian Peterson’s Sept 12 felony indictment for injuring his son with a tree branch, the football great has been forced to the sidelines, missing all but one game this season. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell responded to the indictment with a season long suspension, and while the charge was subsequently reduced to misdemeanor reckless assault, the suspension continued. With so much idle time on his hands, Adrian Peterson is wondering if now might not be the time to switch gears and look for Olympic Gold. The impetus for thoughts of gold was provided by Friday’s ruling by an arbiter that Peterson remain suspended until well after this season ends.
Holding both NCAA and NFL records in rushing, Peterson is fast. As a youngster in Texas, he was introduced to track by his mother who had earlier excelled in sprint and long jump competitions. He went on to record exceptionally fast times in the sprint competition at his high school. Peterson’s most outstanding work, however, was on the high school football team. Later he went on to a prolific career in college football playing for the Oklahoma Sooners.
As the seventh player taken in the 2007 draft, expectations were exceedingly high. Peterson did not disappoint as he was awarded the NFL’s most valuable player award in 2012, then in 2013 he reached 10,000 rushing yards in the third fastest time in league history. With all these distinctions in hand it would appear that with Adrian Peterson and his look for Olympic gold, he might just be realizing a path that was set in motion long ago.
In an interview with ESPN the suspended running back reminisced about his active playing days as if they were a distant memory. It was clear that he is of late a bit out of sorts, truly missing the game. He feels wronged by a league that, in his view, failed to give him the kind of due process everyday citizens get for more heinous crimes. He was always forthcoming and repentant he argues, and would have appreciated being met half way.
Peterson laments that what he did was wrong and vows to modify his parenting style. As Charles Barkley now famously reported, switching bad behaving children in the African-American community is the norm, not the exception, and Peterson was no different. It was, many might contend, a learned behavior and part of the cultural backdrop of his upbringing in Texas. In any event, Peterson has vowed to stop the cycle of corporal punishment and find new ways to correct poor or problematic behavior.
The feelings run deep for Peterson. He feels hurt enough that he has considered a range of possible professional alternatives to football. The lament is palpable as he asks, “Why should I continue to be a part of an organization or a business that handles players the way they do?” There is true regret in his voice but also resolve. He talks about getting into the real estate business, something he claims to have had a serious interest in for quite some time.
The competitor in him, while unable to focus on football for the time-being, has his mind drifting to the world of track and field. It is there that, according to the current iteration of Adrian Peterson, he might look for Olympic Gold. If he does, one might think twice about counting him out. He has proven to be gold wherever the field of competition has taken him thus far.
Commentary By Matthew R. Fellows
Photo By: Farrukh – Flickr License