Viking players are expected to report for camp in Mankato on Sunday, and as far as we know Adrian Peterson has every intention of being there, new contract or no new contract. In an interview a few days ago, Leslie Frazier said he talked to Peterson by phone and received assurances that AD has no plans to hold out. As far as we know nothing has changed in Peterson’s mind since Frazier made that announcement.
There’s no real reason for us to doubt Peterson’s word…so why do I not entirely trust it? Could it be because Adrian himself has planted a kernel of mistrust in the minds of fans after a series of questionable decisions?
It goes back to last year. Peterson was scheduled to be in his hometown of Palestine, Texas for a celebration in his honor at the same time the Vikings were holding mandatory minicamp. No big deal really, except that Peterson neglected to speak to Brad Childress about his intended absence until after the story was all over the internet. Peterson’s poor form was taken then as a single smear on the otherwise sterling record of an upstanding young superstar. But since then there have been other blots, including a very controversial statement comparing the plight of millionaire football players to that of slaves, and another incident just recently where Peterson skipped out on his own camp – which people reportedly paid $200 to get into – to appear on NFL Network talking about himself being one of the 100 best players in the league.
None of Adrian’s gaffes has been very serious by itself, but add them all up and a disturbing pattern of selfishness emerges. Clearly, Adrian is a guy who feels a certain sense of entitlement, and believes he doesn’t always have to follow the rules. This may sound harsh but I’ll say it anyway: A guy who doesn’t find anything wrong with comparing himself to a person who suffered in bondage, who doesn’t stop to consider how things will look when he blows off minicamp or kids who coughed up money to hang with him, is also probably capable of lying over the phone to his head coach about whether he’ll show for camp, or at the very least changing his mind after making the promise.
None of this proves Adrian is lying or intends going back on his pledge to show for camp. Still, would anyone be shocked if he flip-flopped on his assurances to Frazier and ended up being a no-show on Sunday?
He could very well do it, and here are the two reasons why: His contract and Sidney Rice.
The contract was already a touchy issue before, but it became even more touchy when a couple days ago DeAngelo Williams signed a 5-year, $43 million deal with $21 million in guaranteed money. Peterson must see that and figure he’s worth at least $30 million guaranteed. And being a running back, he wants that money as soon as he can get it. Being a veteran with one year remaining on his deal, his best move leverage-wise would be a hold out. He knows that the Vikings are totally screwed without him, and the Vikings know it, and everyone on earth knows it.
The Sidney Rice problem may be more complicated…or not, depending on where Peterson’s head is actually at. We do know that Peterson is at least a little miffed at the Vikings for letting Rice go, because he tweeted as much. “I CAN’T Believe the Vikings let my boy Sidney Rice get away! I didn’t think we wouldn’t be playing together this year! WOW!” Peterson posted.
I realize this is only a tweet and it’s not too smart to assume things about Peterson’s state of mind from such flimsy evidence, but still, Peterson has hung it out there that he’s found another thing to be less-than-happy with the organization about. Keep in mind also that much of Rice’s reason for leaving the Vikings had to do with his anger at not having his contract re-done two years ago. Peterson has seen his boy treated badly by the organization (in his mind at least). And now the organization is treating him in a similar fashion.
Hopefully Peterson understands that, given the absurd contract offered to Rice by Seattle and the Vikings’ own precarious cap situation, the Vikings had no choice but to let his boy go. Hopefully Peterson will also keep in mind that, as much as the Vikings may have jerked Rice around on his contract, that’s how much Rice jerked them around on his hip surgery. The jerking went both ways, and no one has any reason to be bitter.
For some reason, I doubt Peterson is going to be entirely mature when it comes to dealing with his unhappiness over Rice’s departure. It could even be that Peterson is so mad about the way Rice was done by the Vikings that he’s contemplating something even more serious than a hold out. Not to spark panic in Viking Nation, but maybe Peterson is even thinking about rejecting any potential contract offer and testing the market.
It’s possible Peterson isn’t planning a hold out because there’s no reason for him to plan a hold out. What’s the point of holding out if you don’t want to stay anyway? Maybe Peterson is thinking, “I’ll play my last year for these jerks who screwed over my buddy and then I’m out of here.”
That would be a revolting development. But, there’s still a way for the Vikings to smooth those bad feelings over and keep Adrian from using the nuclear option. The plan involves a whole lot of small pieces of paper with Benjamin Franklin’s portrait on them. $30 million guaranteed? $35 million? What would it take to make Peterson forget how upset he is about Sidney. Throw out a number AD. I’m sure Zygi Wilf will be happy to talk.
It may seem like I’m being too hard on Peterson and assuming too much, but like I said earlier, Peterson himself is responsible for planting these seeds of skepticism in people’s minds. He brought a lot of this on himself by not always behaving in a professional manner. Let’s hope he doesn’t add another ding to his reputation this Sunday. When the Vikings take the practice field on Monday, I want AD there and ready to go.