Souhan: Peterson's competitiveness could turn grief into tribute

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 13, 2013 - 12:28 AM

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.

  • related content

  • Adrian Peterson still planning to play on Sunday

    Saturday October 12, 2013

    The star running back is dealing with the death of his 2-year-old son. As of Saturday afternoon, Peterson was still planning to play in Sunday's game, according to a source.

  • Vikings running back Adrian Peterson returned to practice Friday after a 2-year-old son of his was beaten to death. If he decides to play Sunday, it would be honoring his son by doing what he does best.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

St. Louis - WP: L. Lynn 4 FINAL
Washington - LP: J. Zimmermann 3
Toronto - WP: M. Buehrle 5 FINAL
Cleveland - LP: C. Kluber 0
LA Angels - LP: C. Wilson 2 FINAL
Detroit - WP: M. Scherzer 5
Baltimore - LP: B. Norris 2 FINAL
Boston - WP: J. Tazawa 4
Minnesota - LP: K. Correia 4 FINAL
Kansas City - WP: B. Chen 5
Cincinnati - LP: T. Cingrani 4 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - WP: E. Jackson 8
Houston - LP: C. Qualls 3 FINAL
Oakland - WP: D. Otero 4
Milwaukee - WP: J. Henderson 8 FINAL
Pittsburgh - LP: J. Grilli 7
Atlanta - WP: E. Santana 7 FINAL
NY Mets - LP: B. Colon 5
NY Yankees - LP: I. Nova 1 FINAL
Tampa Bay - WP: C. Archer 16
Seattle - LP: R. Elias 0 FINAL
Miami - WP: H. Alvarez 7
Chicago WSox - LP: J. Quintana 3 FINAL
Texas - WP: C. Lewis 6
Philadelphia - LP: K. Kendrick 1 FINAL
Colorado - WP: J. Lyles 3
Arizona - LP: M. Bolsinger 6 FINAL
Los Angeles - WP: D. Haren 8
San Francisco - LP: T. Hudson 1 FINAL
San Diego - WP: E. Stults 3
Brooklyn 94 FINAL
Toronto 87
Golden State 109 FINAL
LA Clippers 105
Atlanta 101 FINAL
Indiana 93
Memphis 86 FINAL
Oklahoma City 100
Chicago 3 FINAL(OT)
St. Louis 4
Columbus 4 FINAL(OT)
Pittsburgh 3
Minnesota 2 FINAL
Colorado 4
Houston 0 FINAL
Philadelphia 0
New England 1 FINAL
Chicago 1
San Jose 0 FINAL
Colorado 0
Los Angeles 2 FINAL
Vancouver FC 2
D.C. 1 FINAL
Columbus 1
Toronto FC 1 FINAL
FC Dallas 2
Montreal 0 FINAL
Sporting Kansas City 4
Portland 0 FINAL
Real Salt Lake 1
Seattle 2 FINAL
Chivas USA 1
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2013 preseason     
Aug 9 - vs. Houston 7 pmX27-13
Aug 16 - at Buffalo 6 pmX20-16
Aug 25 - at San Francisco 7 pmX34-14
Aug 29 - vs. Tennessee 7 pmX24-23
2013 regular season     
Sep 8 - at Detroit NoonX34-24
Sep 15 - at Chicago NoonX31-30
Sep 22 - vs. Cleveland NoonX31-27
Sep 29 - vs. Pittsburgh (in London) NoonX34-27
Oct 6 - Bye
Oct 13 - vs. Carolina NoonX35-10
Oct 21 - at. NY Giants 7:40 pmX23-7
Oct 27 - vs. Green Bay 7:30 pmX44-31
Nov 3 - at Dallas NoonX27-23
Nov 7 - vs. Washington 7:25 pmX34-27
Nov 17 - at Seattle 3:25 pmX41-20
Nov. 24 - at Green Bay Noon26-26
Dec 1 - vs. Chicago NoonX23-20
Dec 8 - at Baltimore NoonX29-26
Dec 15 - vs. Philadelphia NoonX48-30
Dec 22 - at Cincinnati NoonX42-14
Dec 29 - vs. Detroit NoonX14-13

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Which quarterback is best in the NFL draft?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close