Adrian Peterson has experienced very little controversy during his NFL career. But that all changed today with one Yahoo! Sports interview.
While speaking with Doug Farrar as part of a promotional appearance, Adrian made what can only be described as an incendiary remark about the current labor situation. Farrar asked him to discuss his position and Peterson started in with the usual strong rhetoric. Then things veered into the explosive. Peterson’s comments (via Kevin Siefert):
"[The players are] business-minded, also. It’s not just fun and games. A lot of football players, whether it’s Sunday or Monday night — we’re out there on the field, competing, hitting each other. But people don’t see everything else behind it. It’s a job for us, too — every day of the week. We’re in different states, sometimes thousands of miles away from our families and kids, and a lot of people don’t look at it like that. All some people see is, ‘Oh, we’re not going to be around football.’ But how the players look at it … the players are getting robbed. They are. The owners are making so much money off of us to begin with. I don’t know that I want to quote myself on that…It’s modern-day slavery, you know? People kind of laugh at that, but there are people working at regular jobs who get treated the same way, too. With all the money … the owners are trying to get a different percentage, and bring in more money. I understand that; these are business-minded people. Of course this is what they are going to want to do. I understand that; it’s how they got to where they are now. But as players, we have to stand our ground and say, ‘Hey — without us, there’s no football.’ There are so many different perspectives from different players, and obviously we’re not all on the same page — I don’t know. I don’t really see this going to where we’ll be without football for a long time; there’s too much money lost for the owners. Eventually, I feel that we’ll get something done."
Yahoo! has since removed the “modern-day slavery” remark from their post. Doug Farrar explained on his Twitter page that he wasn’t sure of Peterson’s intent in making the comment, hence the decision to take it out.
Unfortunately for Adrian the comment is out there for people to interpret as they will. Going by the tweets and blog comments I’ve seen so far, the consensus among the public is that Adrian’s remark was at best tasteless, at worst idiotic.
The statements against Adrian’s statement mostly go like this: “Adrian Peterson is making $10 million this year, but thinks being a football player is like slavery? What planet is he living on?”
And of course there’s all the millions of tons of historical baggage tied to the word “slavery.” That I think is the crux of the problem here. Adrian may have had a perfectly legitimate point to make, he just chose the wrong way of making it.
With all due respect to Doug Farrar, I don’t think it matters what Peterson’s intent was. More context is not going to overcome the fact that it was plain silly for Peterson to go with the slavery analogy.
As absurd as Peterson’s remark was, I don’t think he deserves to be called dumb or out-of-touch. It was a slip-up. I’m sure Adrian will apologize in due course. That might not satisfy all the people who are truly offended – and have a right to be truly offended – but I’m sure it will be enough for most.
Our perception of Peterson shouldn’t be changed by this one terrible gaffe. He’s still a well-intentioned, decent guy. He just needs to choose his words more carefully from now on.