We received a Tweet yesterday suggesting that there is a correlation between the fumbling of Adrian Peterson and wearing gloves vs. not wearing gloves. As any obsessed Minnesotan would do, we started to wonder if it was true. With a treasure trove of access to photos from this season and the past season, we looked at more than 600 pictures of Peterson carrying the ball.
The conclusions are not definite, but that doesn't mean they aren't interesting. Facts:
*In the two recent games in which Peterson has fumbled twice (Bears and Lions), he has switched between wearing gloves and not wearing gloves during the course of play. He was not wearing gloves when he fumbled the first time against the Bears, but he was almost certainly wearing gloves on his second fumble (photo of he and Brad Childress just as Childress is about to throw the challenge flag, with Peterson clearly wearing gloves ... we're working on finding a replay to be sure). Against the Lions, in the only picture we can see involving a fumble, Peterson is wearing gloves. Again, we're working on looking at a replay for the other one.
*In the first four games of the season, Peterson fumbled twice total. He was not wearing gloves in any picture in any game. The fourth game was the Green Bay game in which his fumble was returned for a TD. Shortly thereafter, this was published in a Star Tribune story:
Peterson has lost two fumbles this season after committing nine last year, but he said he won't wear gloves. "I really like feeling the pigskin in my hand," he said. "If we get a colder game and we are outside and I want to keep my hands warm I'll throw the gloves on. ... (But) no, not for ball security. Actually, I think I get a better grip with no gloves on."
Peterson was not pictured wearing gloves in any of the next four games leading up to the Detroit game, and he had no fumbles in any of those games.
*Last season, he wore some sort of glove -- either fingerless or regular -- in every picture we can find. He fumbled nine times last season, losing four of them. In 2007, it's the same thing: gloves all the way, with 4 fumbles in his 14 games (remember, he was hurt for two). He also appears to have worn a variety of different gloves in his three years.
So while we would hardly say "Adrian Peterson only fumbles with his gloves on" because it simply isn't true, we wouldn't be surprised if there is at least some psychology at play. It's interesting that he's switched from bare hands to gloves in his two recent games with fumbles, suggesting perhaps that he's looking for a different feel or THINKING about his fumbles in the midst of games, which can be dangerous in and of itself. Awareness is one thing; in-game worrying is another.
All that said, if Peterson really thinks he gets a better grip with no gloves on, and he seemed to at least have somewhat of a handle on the fumbling issue while going barehanded for the first half of this season (2 fumbles in 8 games isn't ideal but it's reasonable), we'd have to think most of Vikings Nation would love to see him ditch the gloves -- at least in decent weather or Dome games, which should dominate the rest of the schedule with the exception of the game at Chicago.