The Adrian Peterson situation is getting to be more of a circus than any story involving a local athlete in any sport in many, many years.
For instance, last August ESPN reported Peterson had called Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones two months earlier and expressed an interest in finishing his career with the Cowboys in the state where he grew up.
The Vikings didn’t believe the story, Peterson denied it, but if you follow the Cowboys website, one has to think something is going on and that Jones might be involved in a little tampering in trying to put Peterson in a Cowboys uniform.
A number of newspapers and websites picked up on two stories published on the Cowboys website last week. A headline on the New York Post’s website Friday read: “Cowboys doing awful job of hiding interest in Adrian Peterson.”
The Cowboys website had two stories on Peterson’s status Thursday, a point-counterpoint. The point story was headlined: “Reinstated Peterson Would Make Cowboys Serious Contenders.”
The writer of that story — Rob Phillips, who works for the Cowboys — started off with a disclaimer that said, “The Cowboys have not expressed any desire to acquire Peterson.” It continues to say that Jones will visit with the top running back prospects in this year’s draft as the Cowboys try to find a rookie to replace All-Pro running back DeMarco Murray, who left as a free agent for the Eagles.
Phillips also pointed out the Cowboys recently signed defensive end Greg Hardy, who might be facing an NFL suspension, and they are clearly in the mode of trying to win right now.
The counterpoint story headline read: “Dealing For Peterson Wouldn’t Be A Responsible Decision.” That was written by another Cowboys staff writer, David Helman, and said, “Because [Peterson is] that talented, the Vikings wouldn’t part ways with him for a cheap price. They’d want plenty in return, most likely draft picks. How much would Dallas give up to pry the native Texan out of Minneapolis? It could cost as much as two picks — two high picks.”
According to Pro Football Talk, the NFL doesn’t classify this as tampering because neither Jones nor any other team official is quoted, but there must be some interest if the team’s official website is getting involved in the question of acquiring Peterson. I have to imagine there is no way the Cowboys would run those stories without approval from someone high up in the organization.
Not expected to show
It’s interesting that on Monday, NFL players have the option of reporting to a team workout. The word is that Peterson would receive $250,000 if he reported to the Vikings camp. But nobody expects him to report under any circumstances.
The Vikings insist they will not trade Peterson and that they expect him to make quarterback Teddy Bridgewater’s development that much easier if he is in their backfield this season.
Now that the NFL has made Peterson eligible to play, I expect Zygi Wilf and his family to make every effort to get him in uniform, including renegotiating his contract so that Peterson receives a lot of guaranteed money.
Turned down Winnipeg
The recent vote by the Minneapolis City Council to add $24.5 million to money already allocated to do a first-class job remodeling Target Center reminded me of the chance for the arena to become home of the Winnipeg Jets in 1996, before the Xcel Energy Center was built in St. Paul.
Had the City Council voted to appropriate $15 million a year for four years for arena improvements, it would have happened. Wheelock Whitney, one of the great civic leaders in this town, made a fantastic appeal to the council in a speech at Target Center, pointing out that the politicians had contributed nothing to Met Stadium when it was home to the Twins and Vikings or the Met Center when the North Stars played there.
But the City Council turned down the appeal, and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, who wanted the Jets franchise to move here, allowed it to become the Phoenix Coyotes instead.
On another subject, the local Super Bowl committee that helped bring the game here for 2018 is now faced with Minneapolis legislators wanting to take away tax breaks on Super Bowl tickets, a promise that no doubt was made to the NFL.
Gophers recruiting strong
I think the days of the Gophers football team losing out on the top-rated recruits it pursues are over, at least on the basis of what has happened to date.
Coach Jerry Kill and his staff have gotten commitments from five outstanding Minnesota players who were sought by other Big Ten schools. They also have gotten one from Illinois who was sought by major conference schools as well.
Look for the Gophers to have at least 10 commitments for the class of 2016 within the next two weeks, the most they have ever had at this stage of the season.
• According to Gophers athletic director Norwood Teague, none of the new athletic facilities will be under construction until money is available to start all the different projects at one time. At this point the university isn’t close to the $120 million sought.
• The Gophers men’s basketball team’s fortunes will be a lot more promising if they can succeed in landing Chris Boucher, the National Junior College Athletic Association Player of the Year. The 6-10 forward, who also has offers from Memphis, Texas Tech and Oregon, averaged 22.2 points and 11.6 rebounds this year for Northwest College out of Wyoming.
• Former Timberwolves player and executive and current Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg underwent open-heart surgery to replace an aortic valve at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester on Friday. It was the second open-heart surgery he has had since being diagnosed with an aortic root aneurysm before the 2005-06 Wolves season. “Everything went very well,” Dr. Rakesh Suri of the Mayo Clinic said in a statement. “The operation was a success.” Hoiberg will be out four to six weeks for recovery and then plans to start recruiting.
• Chris Weinke, the Cretin-Derham Hall quarterback who went on to win the Heisman Trophy at Florida State in 2000, was named quarterbacks coach for the St. Louis Rams, his first NFL coaching assignment.
• Tracking former Gophers in the American Hockey League, which sees its regular season end this weekend: Kyle Rau had two goals and one assist in six games for San Antonio; Adam Wilcox lost his debut for Syracuse, giving up three goals on 30 shots against Springfield; Brady Skjei had played in six games for Hartford with no points; and Seth Ambroz had no points in four games for Springfield.