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.
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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.