Negotiating Football Happiness Shouldn’t Be #1 Priority Right Now
Football By Football was established to provide fans with a player’s perspective – offering insights into the game that originates from within.
Generally, unless there’s a compelling reason to think otherwise, we tend to lean toward the player’s standpoint in any debate or news piece.
We have a deep understanding of the player’s viewpoint. Put plainly, players dedicate parts of their bodies for public entertainment, though with substantial compensation.
It’s becoming increasingly evident that players are often viewed as interchangeable, replaceable at a moment’s notice.
Bearing this in mind, the default stance at FBF is “what’s in the best interest of the player.”
However, when it comes to the Adrian Peterson child abuse situation, it’s an entirely different matter.
The distressing details are well known – we’ve all heard them repeatedly by now. The punishment was warranted, administered, and served.
Whenever Peterson makes headlines for anything other than his performance on the field, it’s not a positive development.
Perhaps a return to Minnesota might not be the absolute “best” for Peterson, but that’s not the main issue.
Peterson must honor his contract with the Vikings and focus on playing football.
Peterson, with the support of the NFLPA, took the necessary steps to challenge the NFL’s attempts to suspend him for alleged CBA violations indefinitely.
Now that this chapter is behind him, it’s hard to see how anything other than a quiet return to playing with the team he’s contracted with will facilitate his reintegration into the league.
Over the past few weeks, there have been numerous reports of Peterson and his agent engaging in disputes with Vikings management.
Ownership even made recruiting trips to Texas in an effort to mend fences with the player.
There have been recent leaks about declined dinner invitations and speculation about potential new teams that Peterson might prefer to play for, which are believed to be more conducive for him.
The undeniable truth is that Peterson committed a severe offense against his child, which led to his suspension from the game in which he excelled at.
Each of these new and highly publicized conflicts is a stark reminder of that fact, and it’s not beneficial for anyone involved.
What’s best for the player is usually a reasonable first consideration. Except when it’s not.
It’s hardly surprising if there’s tension in Minnesota. I’m not sure there’s a definitive “right” way to handle a situation like this.
In defense of the Vikings, Peterson is the only player with a recent troubling incident – from Ray Rice to Ray McDonald, to Greg Hardy – still being offered a second chance with his original team.
Given this, it’s reasonable to afford the player a certain amount of latitude – even if you may not be entirely pleased with every decision the team made throughout the process.
As a player, you don’t always get everything you desire. Conditions aren’t always tailored to your preferences in most playing scenarios. This is more the rule than the exception.
Once the football game starts, what’s happening in the front office shouldn’t (or at least ideally, shouldn’t) occupy much of a player’s thoughts.
What does it matter how you feel about the owner or any other person in the organization?
If the locker room and coaching staff are open to your return and offering a chance to regain trust, you should seize it.
This is particularly crucial, considering it’s a locker room filled with teammates who were affected by your actions not long ago.
Looking at it strictly from a football perspective, the Vikings remain an excellent fit for Peterson.
They boast an up-and-coming young quarterback, a situation Peterson hasn’t really experienced since his time in Minnesota, which alleviates some of the offensive burden on him.
His head coach also commands a great deal of respect in the NFL. Plus, he remains the highest-paid running back in the game.
Of course, Peterson could attempt to leverage his situation to secure precisely what he desires elsewhere.
But it’s worth considering that obtaining every single wish may not always be the most important factor.
The Greg Hardy signing and the strong opposition it faced in Dallas should serve as a clear example that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.
The pressure on Hardy to perform will be immense, and it wouldn’t be surprising if, a year from now, he’s no longer in Dallas.
Minnesota and its fan base are willing to extend a second chance to Peterson.
It’s an opportunity he should seize and maximize. In the NFL, running backs can quickly fall out of favor.
At this juncture, gratitude for still being embraced should be the foremost sentiment.
Returning to Minnesota may not be the most straightforward choice for Peterson, but it’s the correct one.
Moving forward, it’s imperative for him to demonstrate sincere appreciation for any goodwill extended by the organization and to put an end to the public spectacle of courting.
Prioritizing this should be Peterson’s top focus. Sometimes, the best place for your ego is in the background.
As Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer emphasized last week, “Adrian is under contract with us, and we’re excited to get him back here with his teammates and get him back playing.”
It really shouldn’t be much more complicated than that.
The most effective way to make amends is to show genuine eagerness to prove that you’ve learned from your mistakes and are ready to contribute to your teammates by carrying the ball.
While it’s usually reasonable to first consider what’s best for the player, there are exceptions.
Sometimes, keeping things straightforward and forging ahead is the only viable path to getting back on track.