That’s what you’ve got to do in today’s world. Bounce from work e-mail to personal crises to appalling news on the television to a cat acting drunk on the Internet. Each is its own little world. Each is worthy of some segment of your time, whether that means five seconds of giggling or eight hours of intense concentration.
If you’re a humane Vikings fan, you have little choice but to compartmentalize today. Your franchise has rewarded Adrian Peterson with a contract restructured to his preferences. This is the latest proof that the barrier between the real world and the National Football League makes the Rocky Mountains look like spilled salt.
If you’re humane, you wonder why a player who beat a child, missed 15 games because of his actions, aged a year and complained about the franchise’s remarkably deferential treatment of him is deserving of a restructured contract.
If you care only about football, or choose to care only about football in this case, the deal makes sense.
Last year the Vikings lost Peterson to suspension, tight end Kyle Rudolph to a season-ending injury, broke in a new offense, a new defense, a first-time head coach and a rookie quarterback, lost their most talented defensive player and their backup running back halfway through the season and won seven games.
Filling in for Peterson, journeyman back Matt Asiata scored nine touchdowns. In his time as lead back, rookie Jerick McKinnon, a raw player who wasn’t even a pro-style back in college, averaged 4.8 yards per carry. While McKinnon has tremendous athletic ability, he gained almost 5 yards a carry while learning to read blocks.
The Vikings believe that Peterson will thrive in offensive coordinator Norv Turner’s offense.
They believe Peterson can make them a championship contender.
They’re probably right.
You don’t restructure the contract of a 30-year-old running back who caused you headaches and scared off sponsors unless you think you can win big with him.
You don’t embrace that guy so you can go 8-8.
You give him the cash because you believe he might be able to give you a ring.
In the real world, this seems crass, even unfathomable. In the NFL, it makes perfect sense.
No matter how many charitable endeavors the Vikings and their players undertake, no matter how many good works they do, this is a billion-dollar team owned by a billionaire building a billion-dollar stadium that knows it will be judged now and forever by victory totals.
With Peterson captivating and bludgeoning defenses, Teddy Bridgewater’s improvement could accelerate. The offense should improve dramatically. Coach Mike Zimmer’s preferred physical style of play will be enabled. The Vikings should see improvement in time of possession, field position, scoring, and big plays.
Peterson is turning 30, which is midnight at the ball for most running backs. But there is no reason other than lack of familiarity to confuse him with every other 30-year-old back in history.
He rushed for 2,000 yards after having knee surgery. He is the rare 30-year-old back who missed most of his 29-year-old season despite being completely healthy. In the illogical way some athletes use any negativity around them for motivation, Peterson is likely to turn the public’s anger with him into some sort of performance-enhancing motivational mantra.
The Vikings restructured his deal because they know what a healthy, happy-to-be-here, angry-at-the-world Peterson could mean for their offense, their team, their franchise.
The instant analysis of this deal will be that Peterson won, that he got what he wanted from a franchise that feared his wrath.
After watching the Vikings writhe through this saga for almost a year, it’s apparent that they had this in mind all along.
The Vikings football bosses wanted their star running back to return. They think they can win big with him. That his actions were sequentially horrifying, pathetic, silly and puzzling didn’t matter to them.
All they want him to do is carry the football. Those whose careers depend on winning have every reason to compartmentalize.