By Scott Taylor
As the Minnesota Vikings prepare to face the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field this Sunday, the face of Adrian Peterson still looms large over the Vikings organization.
He stares at them from pictures on the wall, covers on game programs and through the TV screens. Since the plea bargain was settled, Adrian Peterson has decided he wants to play football. And he wants to play now.
You can understand when Jason LaCanfora CBS Sports writes something like this:
“The Vikings harbor some serious concerns about Adrian Peterson’s physical and mental state following his prolonged layoff while facing felony child abuse charges, and there are no guarantees at this point that they would welcome him back if reinstated, according to sources with knowledge of the situation.
“Peterson has also seemed aloof and immature in the face of such serious charges, sources said, not seeming to grasp the magnitude of the situation, and there is a fear within the team of further backlash if they bring him back.”
I have no idea if any of that is true, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it is. We have obviously reached a crossroads in Peterson’s career with the Vikings.
As of today, Peterson is still on the NFL’s Commissioner-Exempt List. The league says it is reviewing the case under the personal conduct policy. The NFLPA has filed a complaint demanding that Peterson be reinstated immediately. It could get messy, although I have a suspicion it won’t.
Peterson has cut a deal with prosecutors in Texas, accepted his punishment for assaulting his child and taken responsibility for his actions (whether you want to believe he’s sincere is entirely up to you).
On Monday, the Vikings released the following statement:
“In regards to Adrian Peterson’s status with the Minnesota Vikings, at this time his potential reinstatement is under NFL guidelines. As an organization, we respect and understand the league’s process. In the interim, our focus is on the team and preparing for this weekend’s game against the Bears.”
Should Peterson play immediately? Probably not. Let’s forget the whole public relations nightmare, you’ve just gone eight weeks without him and Jerick McKinnon has played well in his place. McKinnon is not AP, but he’s proven to be a decent back and he’s fit into the offence.
However, it’s unlikely the Vikings are going to release Peterson. If he was going to be released, he’d already have been released. The Vikings have paid him every penny of his salary for eight weeks while he didn’t play, why would they pay him more just to release him at the end of the season?
The United States has always prided itself on being a nation of second chances. Peterson committed a terrible transgression on a helpless child, but he’s been punished by the courts for it and whether we agree with the punishment he will do his time (yes, I know, community service) and he will pay his debt to society.
After he sits out this week, it will be nine weeks without playing a down. You can probably bet that the NFL’s punishment will have a lot to do with time already served. The league says it will make a decision on the NFLPA’s reinstatement request by Nov. 17.
At that point, the Vikings brass will be forced to make a decision of its own. Don’t be surprised if that decision goes either way. Determining the future of Adrian Peterson in Minnesota will not be easy.
And we’re not even sure the Vikings want him back.