Curran: Smoke, mirrors, the Patriots and Adrian Peterson

Curran: Smoke, mirrors, the Patriots and Adrian Peterson

Adrian Peterson is a future Hall-of-Fame running back who is a season removed from leading the NFL in carries, yards and touchdowns.

You can make the case for a number of backs being more complete than AP (Le’Veon Bell, David Johnson, Ezekiel Elliott, Le’Sean McCoy, Jordan Howard), but even at 32 he’s still top five in terms of running with a football after its been handed to him.


So, on the surface, it’s easy to understand why the Patriots would host Peterson for a visit Monday. He’s good at carrying footballs past people that want to knock him down.

But that’s not the only characteristic Peterson brings. Part of AP’s personal “mosaic” to borrow a Bill Belichick term, are myriad reasons that seem to disqualify him from playing here.

First? The child abuse and delight he appeared to take in doling it out (recounted here as a refresher). 

The beating allegedly resulted in numerous injuries to the child, including cuts and bruises to the child’s back, buttocks, ankles, legs and scrotum, along with defensive wounds to the child’s hands. Peterson then texted the boy’s mother, saying that one wound in particular would make her “mad at me about his leg. I got kinda good wit the tail end of the switch.”

Peterson also allegedly said via text message to the child’s mother that he “felt bad after the fact when I notice the switch was wrapping around hitting I (sic) thigh” and also acknowledged the injury to the child’s scrotum in a text message, saying, “Got him in nuts once I noticed. But I felt so bad, n I’m all tearing that butt up when needed! I start putting them in timeout. N save the whooping for needed memories!”

In further text messages, Peterson allegedly said, “Never do I go overboard! But all my kids will know, hey daddy has the biggie heart but don’t play no games when it comes to acting right.”

There’s more, including photos, but my point here is there should be no mistaking what Peterson did as a parent’s right to use corporal punishment in disciplining his children. It was criminal. It was on a defenseless person. It wasn’t a heat-of-the-moment, one-time thing.

Outcry surrounding Michael Vick’s aberrant behavior a decade ago dwarfed the reaction Peterson’s acts elicited. To me, what Peterson did was worse. Yet Peterson never went to the lengths Vick or disgraced former Ravens running back Ray Rice did in owning up to and advocating against the repulsive behavior they engaged in. He said he was sorry. Insisted that he loved his six kids. Said he wouldn’t whoop them anymore.

Jonathan Kraft eloquently explained in 2014 why he couldn’t reconcile anything about what Peterson did. 

"I just don’t get it, so it is hard to comment on. Other than the fact the way I was brought up and the way I brought my children is you don’t lay your hands on them," he said. "From where I sit it is completely unacceptable and as abhorrent as what we have been talking about [with Ray Rice]. It was interesting hearing some people raise a defense about it being cultural and I can’t comment on that.

“Everything I have heard about this makes you just physically uncomfortable as the other stuff we have talked about. And I think it is a real issue and in this case I think Adrian Peterson in his comments basically did say it is a thing he grew up with and is culturally what the norm is. I can’t comment on it because it is just so alien to me."

Meanwhile, Robert Kraft last week said draft prospect Joe Mixon was off the board for the Patriots because of his violent assault on a woman while at Oklahoma.

“While I believe in second chances and giving players an opportunity for redemption, I also believe that playing in the NFL is a privilege, not a right,” Kraft said at the NFL’s Annual Meetings in Phoenix.

Peterson could be viewed as a redemption story, I suppose. But there are other factors aside from bloodying his young son’s scrotum by whipping him with a stick that argue against Peterson being a great Patriots fit.

He fumbles (seven of ‘em in 2015). He’s a liability as a pass protector.

The Patriots have a stable of running backs fitting specific roles already - James White, Dion Lewis and Rex Burkhead – that would make a one-dimensional workhorse back like Peterson a luxury item along the lines of someone like me buying a $1,500 tuxedo. His price tag will undoubtedly be higher than guys like Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski and Malcolm Butler, sowing the seeds of “Are you kidding me?!” conversations. He’s not accustomed to being a bit player.

So, why’d the Patriots have him in?

My theory? They’re doing a solid for Peterson’s agent, Ben Dogra. Once one of the league’s most powerful reps when he was at CAA, Dogra was just reinstated in February by the NFLPA. The Patriots always had good relationships with Dogra. Now, as he’s trying to regain his foothold, his most recognizable client – Peterson – can’t get a sniff around the league. There’s no better way to make other organizations – owners especially – perk up than to get the Patriots imprimatur on Peterson even if it’s just a visit.

As Mike Florio points out, the Patriots could have done a low-key tire-kicking with Peterson.

Instead, The Oracle – Adam Schefter - had it Sunday night. Florio thinks it’s to put the heat on LeGarrette Blount and says a Peterson signing is unlikely. I think it’s a mere back-scratching for Dogra that the team hopes Dogra may remember somewhere down the line when doing a deal.

What we do agree on is that Adrian Peterson won’t be a Patriot.


Dolphins' Wake promises pain for Patriots on Monday night


Dolphins' Wake promises pain for Patriots on Monday night

Monday night, Cameron Wake will be trying to hurt Tom Brady. Pain – inflicting it, enduring it, the specter of it – is a football fact of life.

And no matter how hard the NFL tries to legislate out the danger of the game, it will always be inherent. Brady gets that better than Wake does. He’s been on the receiving end of it a lot longer than Wake’s been dishing it out. And while Brady’s gets to do his job with plenty of protections, he spends a lot more time prone and vulnerable than Wake does.

The Dolphins defensive end went deep last week talking about the nature of the game, the protections afforded, the risks players take and what he sees as the inconsistencies.


Asked about the injury suffered by Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier last week, Wake said, “I’ve seen a lot of injuries so, unfortunately, that comes along with. This is my thing: I want to hurt everybody I play. I don’t want to injure anybody.

“I want you to be able to get up and go to the next play or feed your family and play next week but I want you to say ‘Man, Cameron Wake …’ ” Wake continued. “I don’t want you to be off the team or like not playing. I want you to obviously be physically defeated. I want to intimidate. I don’t want you to be harmed beyond tomorrow at all. It doesn’t always work that way.”

Continuing, Wake did a little math to make a very good point.

“We have 10 guys on IR or whatever? I’m sure every team has about that with 50 players on a team and then when you think about a 90-man roster … That’s a 20 percent chance every time you’re on the field, a 20 percent chance that whatever happens to you, you’re not going to play football this year.”

As appetizing as the NFL tries to make its product for the masses, the truth is that every single one of the players in the league has reconciled himself to the brutal, primitive nature of the game in which an opponent isn’t just defeated but beaten – literally.

Which means you will see a quarterback exhibit the fencing response as Tom Savage did Sunday, a linebacker unable to walk off the field because he can’t feel his legs as Shazier did last Monday or a well-liked tight end go barbaric on an opponent who made him mad as Rob Gronkowski did last Sunday.

Consumers, advertisers, social media and fans recoil. But violence is as much a part of the game as the football.


Eagles announce Wentz has torn ACL, out for rest of year


Eagles announce Wentz has torn ACL, out for rest of year

PHILADELPHIA -- Eagles star quarterback Carson Wentz has a torn left ACL and will miss rest of the season and playoffs, coach Doug Pederson confirmed.

Wentz, a favorite in the NFL MVP race, had an MRI on Monday that revealed the severity of the injury. Wentz was hurt late in the third quarter Sunday at Los Angeles. Backup Nick Foles rallied the Eagles (11-2) to a 43-35 win over the Rams that secured the NFC East title and put them in first place in the conference with three games remaining.

The Eagles have overcome several key injuries and now have to move forward without their most indispensable player. Nine-time Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters, return specialist/running back Darren Sproles, star linebacker Jordan Hicksand special teams captain Chris Maragos already went down for the season.

"If there's ever an opportunity for me to rally the troops as the football coach, now might be the time," Pederson said. "You can't lose faith. This has been a resilient football team all season long."

After starting all 16 games as a rookie, Wentz made a giant leap this year. He passed for 3,296 yards and set a franchise single-season record with 33 touchdown passes while only tossing seven interceptions.

Foles led the Eagles to a pair of field goals on consecutive drives against the Rams. He is 20-17 as a starter in six seasons with the Eagles, Rams and Chiefs.

Pederson insisted the offense won't change with Foles.

"He's a highly intelligent football player," Pederson said.

A third-round pick by former Eagles coach Andy Reid in 2012, Foles in his second stint in Philadelphia. He replaced an injured Michael Vick in 2013 and led the Eagles to an NFC East title during Chip Kelly's first season as coach. Foles tied an NFL record with seven TD passes in a game at Oakland in November 2013 and finished that season with 27 TDs and only two picks. The Eagles lost at home to New Orleans in the playoffs. Foles went to the Pro Bowl and was the offensive MVP.

But Kelly traded Foles to St. Louis for Sam Bradford after the 2014 season. Foles spent a year with the Rams, a season with the Chiefs and returned to Philadelphia as a free agent this season.

Second-year pro Nate Sudfeld is Philadelphia's No. 3 quarterback. Pederson said he hasn't spoken to personnel boss Howie Roseman about adding a third quarterback yet.

"I'm absolutely ready to go - need be," Foles said after the win over the Rams. "I prepare every day."