Athletes often honor lost loved ones by the artistry in their play.
Of all the fiery rings of imaginable hell, none could possibly sear the soul like the loss of a child.
Adrian Peterson’s son died this week. This is the worst loss a human can suffer, and it happened in the worst possible way. A man allegedly beat his 2-year-old son to death.
When he was 7, Peterson watched his older brother get hit by a drunken driver and die.
While he attended the NFL combine, he learned of a half-brother being shot and killed.
Now, he has lost a son. He will grieve, and it appears he will play football while grieving.
How do athletes do this? How do they summon the competitiveness to play a game while bearing a heavy heart and a cluttered mind?
How will Adrian Peterson?
To the layman, the concept of playing a game while grieving makes little sense. No one would want to go to the office on the day their son died.
Great athletes are different from us in many ways, and this is one of those ways.
Games are their milieu. As hoary as the cliché has become, teams are their temporary families. The playing field is where they pour out their emotions, where they honor those they love.
If Peterson decides to play on Sunday, he will not be demonstrating insensitivity to his personal tragedy. He will not be displaying misguided priorities, or placing football above real life. There is no correct choice for Peterson to make, only the choice that allows him to grieve as he sees fit.
If he decides to play, he will be honoring his son the best way he knows how.
History overflows with athletes who perform, and perform well, while emotionally stricken. Perhaps the best example of this was provided by one of the most emotional players of his generation, Brett Favre.
On Dec. 21, 2003, Favre told his teammates in a meeting that his father had died and that he planned to play the next night, against the Oakland Raiders on Monday Night Football.
He threw for 311 yards and four touchdowns in the first half, and the Packers won in a rout. Favre played brilliantly at times, and at times his receivers seemed to channel their devotion to him by making spectacular catches, and the night ended with Favre in tears.
“I knew that my dad would have wanted me to play,” Favre said then. “I love him so much, and I love this game. It’s meant a great deal to me, to my dad, to my family, and I didn’t expect this kind of performance. But I know he was watching tonight.”
Favre honored his father by playing football.
It isn’t hard to imagine Peterson doing the same.
|NY Yankees - LP: M. Pineda||0||FINAL|
|Toronto - WP: D. Hutchison||2|
|Detroit - LP: M. Scherzer||3||FINAL|
|Chicago WSox - WP: C. Sale||6|
|Chicago Cubs - WP: F. Doubront||5||FINAL|
|St. Louis - LP: J. Masterson||1|
|Cincinnati - LP: A. Simon||2||FINAL|
|Pittsburgh - WP: V. Worley||3|
|Minnesota - LP: J. Burton||2||FINAL|
|Baltimore - WP: A. Miller||3|
|Philadelphia - WP: J. Williams||7||FINAL|
|NY Mets - LP: B. Colon||2|
|Miami - WP: J. Cosart||4||FINAL|
|Atlanta - LP: A. Harang||0|
|Boston - LP: A. Webster||0||FINAL|
|Tampa Bay - WP: J. Odorizzi||7|
|Cleveland - WP: J. Tomlin||3||FINAL|
|Kansas City - LP: S. Downs||2|
|Detroit - WP: K. Ryan||8||FINAL|
|Chicago WSox - LP: C. Bassitt||4|
|Texas - LP: P. Klein||0||FINAL|
|Houston - WP: S. Feldman||2|
|Colorado - WP: T. Matzek||2||FINAL|
|Arizona - LP: V. Nuno||0|
|Chicago Cubs - LP: T. Wada||2||FINAL|
|St. Louis - WP: M. Gonzales||13|
|Los Angeles - LP: J. Wright||1||FINAL|
|San Diego - WP: T. Stauffer||2|
|Milwaukee - LP: M. Fiers||1||FINAL|
|San Francisco - WP: J. Peavy||3|
|Oakland - LP: J. Samardzija||0||FINAL|
|LA Angels - WP: Y. Herrera||2|
|Washington - WP: S. Strasburg||3||FINAL|
|Seattle - LP: R. Elias||1|
|Green Bay||9/4/14 7:30 PM|
|(6) Jacksonville St||7||FINAL|
|(8) Michigan State||45|
|(5) Ohio State||34||FINAL|
|(17) Notre Dame||48|
|(10) South Dakota St||18||FINAL|
|(23) North Carolina||56|
|Stephen F Austin||16||FINAL|
|(20) Kansas State||55|
|(1) Florida State||37||FINAL|
|Utah State||6:00 PM|
|Miami-Florida||9/1/14 7:00 PM|
|Arizona||9/4/14 7:00 PM|
|Pittsburgh||9/5/14 6:00 PM|
|Washington St||9/5/14 9:30 PM|
|SMU||9/6/14 11:00 AM|
|Fla Atlantic||9/6/14 11:00 AM|
|Buffalo||9/6/14 11:00 AM|
|(24) Missouri||9/6/14 11:00 AM|
|Arkansas State||9/6/14 11:00 AM|
|(8) McNeese State||9/6/14 11:00 AM|
|Central Mich||9/6/14 11:00 AM|
|Akron||9/6/14 11:00 AM|
|Western Ill||9/6/14 11:00 AM|
|(20) Kansas State||9/6/14 11:00 AM|
|(4) Oklahoma||9/6/14 11:00 AM|
|Western Ky||9/6/14 11:00 AM|
|SC State||9/6/14 11:30 AM|
|Navy||9/6/14 12:00 PM|
|UAB||9/6/14 1:00 PM|
|South Alabama||9/6/14 1:00 PM|
|New Mexico St||9/6/14 1:00 PM|
|Colorado||9/6/14 2:00 PM|
|Fresno State||9/6/14 2:00 PM|
|(1) Eastern Wash||9/6/14 2:00 PM|
|(15) USC||9/6/14 2:30 PM|
|Ohio U||9/6/14 2:30 PM|
|Middle Tennessee||9/6/14 2:30 PM|
|Northern Ill||9/6/14 2:30 PM|
|Missouri State||9/6/14 2:30 PM|
|Ball State||9/6/14 2:30 PM|
|Maryland||9/6/14 2:30 PM|
|Eastern Mich||9/6/14 3:00 PM|
|Georgia Tech||9/6/14 3:00 PM|
|(18) Ole Miss||9/6/14 3:30 PM|
|Old Dominion||9/6/14 5:00 PM|
|(8) Michigan State||9/6/14 5:30 PM|
|(19) Arizona State||9/6/14 6:00 PM|
|Louisiana Tech||9/6/14 6:00 PM|
|San Jose St||9/6/14 6:00 PM|
|East Carolina||9/6/14 6:00 PM|
|(9) So Carolina|
|Duke||9/6/14 6:00 PM|
|Idaho||9/6/14 6:00 PM|
|(17) Sam Houston St||9/6/14 6:30 PM|
|Michigan||9/6/14 6:30 PM|
|(17) Notre Dame|
|Lamar||9/6/14 6:30 PM|
|(21) Texas A&M|
|Northwestern St||9/6/14 6:30 PM|
|BYU||9/6/14 6:30 PM|
|Citadel||9/6/14 6:30 PM|
|(1) Florida State|
|San Diego St||9/6/14 7:00 PM|
|(23) North Carolina|
|Virginia Tech||9/6/14 7:00 PM|
|(5) Ohio State|
|Memphis||9/6/14 9:00 PM|
|Colorado State||9/6/14 9:15 PM|
|Air Force||9/6/14 9:15 PM|
|Oregon State||9/6/14 9:30 PM|
|Texas Tech||9/6/14 10:00 PM|
|Real Salt Lake||1||FINAL|
|Aug 8 - vs. Oakland||7 pm||X||10-6|
|Aug 16 - vs. Arizona||7:30 pm||X||30-28|
|Aug 23 - at Kansas City||7 pm||X||30-12|
|Aug 28 - at Tennessee||7 pm||X||19-3|
|2014 regular season|
|Sep 7 - at St. Louis||Noon|
|Sep 14 - vs. New England||Noon|
|Sep 21 - at New Orleans||Noon|
|Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta||3:25 pm|
|Oct 2 - at Green Bay||7:25 pm|
|Oct 12 - vs. Detroit||Noon|
|Oct 19 - at. Buffalo||Noon|
|Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay||Noon|
|Nov 2 - vs. Washington||Noon|
|Nov 9 - Bye|
|Nov 16 - at Chicago||Noon|
|Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay||Noon|
|Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina||Noon|
|Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets||Noon|
|Dec 14 - at Detroit||Noon|
|Dec 21 - at Miami||Noon|
|Dec 28 - vs. Chicago||Noon|