I have Adrian Peterson fatigue as much as anybody. I can’t wait until things are settled one way or another and we can all turn the page. That said, when the Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez issued a handwritten apology letter on Tuesday I couldn’t help but wonder if Vikings fans would ever receive an apology from Peterson.
The Peterson saga has been chronicled and analyzed a million different ways by media everywhere since the story broke in September that he had abused his 4-year-old child. We’ve covered it here at Vikings Journal as best we could because, regardless of whether readers think it is news and regardless of whether everyone is kind of sick and tired of hearing about it, it is in fact newsworthy. It involves the man who was the face of the Vikings’ franchise – a man who was one of the most popular and valuable players in the game. The fall-out has enormous ramifications for the Vikings this offseason. It already had a significant impact this past season – a season for which Peterson was suspended for 15 of the 16 games.
I’m not here to revisit whether Vikings fans want him back or whether Peterson himself would want to return. Nor am I posting this to discuss the future consequences, financial implications or PR issues the Vikings would face with or without Peterson. That territory has recently been covered by my colleague, Aj Mansour.
The landscape has been saturated with analysis of the Peterson predicament and I have chosen to sit back for quite a while now and just wait for the story to unfold. In fact, the next chapter of this story could be right around the corner, as Peterson and the Vikings wait to hear the ruling of Judge David Doty with regard to the NFLPA’s suit on the running back’s behalf against the NFL. The Players Association is asking that Peterson be reinstated immediately. Judge Doty has taken the matter under advisement and could render a decision any week now.
That’s where we sit.
Yet, as I mentioned at the outset of this post, the handwritten apology from A-Rod to the fans that was released on Tuesday got me wondering. And I was told by a colleague last week that if I’m wondering about an issue pertaining to the Vikings, the chances are good that at least some readers of Vikings Journal are wondering the same thing.
So here’s the thing: it might not matter to some either way, but Peterson hasn’t issued any kind of public apology for what he did and the mess he created. I wonder if he ever will apologize to the fans.
Of course, on the long list of people to whom Peterson should be apologizing to, the fans probably don’t rank toward the top. His family, friends, bosses, teammates and sponsors should likely fall in line before the fans. Yet, that’s what players and celebrities typically do these days because public opinion carries weight. If you screw up, you issue an apology to the fans and everyone else… and maybe, just maybe, some people will forgive you and fences can me somewhat mended.
According to the article by Tom Pelissero of USA Today last fall following Peterson’s court hearing, Peterson did apologize to his son and expressed remorse for hurting him.
That’s the only apology that I know of thus far. Obviously, it’s the most important one so it’s a darn good place to start, yet that’s the only trace of apology we’ve heard. As for the remorse, when Peterson was suspended on Nov. 18, one of the many reasons given in the statement by Commissioner Goodell was that he had “shown no meaningful remorse for [his] conduct.”
Peterson has since argued that he is remorseful -- that he feels bad about what happened and will never use a switch to discipline his child again. He is undergoing psychological counseling and parenting supervision in Hennepin County, per court records disclosed by the Star Tribune and several media outlets.
Again, that’s great. He should be undergoing counseling after what he did. Many feel he should also be in jail, but the fact remains he had his day in court. He pleaded no contest to misdemeanor reckless assault and was sentenced to two years of probation.
He kind of tiptoed up to the line of apologizing to fans, teammates, etc. when he released a statement back on Sept. 15, three days after the story broke. But that’s about it.
My guess is that Peterson hasn’t really apologized to the world yet for a few reasons. It is possible Peterson’s camp determined that any apology to people other than his son and family would be construed as an admission of guilt and that a larger scale apology wouldn’t play well in court. Perhaps he feels an apology will damage whatever leverage he thinks he has in not accepting a pay cut from the Vikings. Or maybe he truly doesn’t feel he did anything purposely wrong that for which he needs to say “I’m sorry.” Truth is, depending on your stance on corporal punishment, you might agree with that perspective. That’s something that will continue to be debated in this country, I’m sure.
However, in order to give himself the best chance of turning the page – the best chance of getting on with his life, gaining some level of forgiveness and rehabilitating his image to any extent, I believe he needs to issue that widespread apology. We live in a forgiving society in which people are granted second chances all the time. Peterson has served his suspension, is on probation and is undergoing counseling. He’s taking his medicine in many respects.
An apology to the fans and whoever else he may have angered, hurt or disappointed, however, still feels like a necessary step. Maybe it will come after Judge Doty’s decision. Maybe it will come when the dust settles and he knows where he’s playing football this season. I don’t think it needs to be a handwritten apology like A-Rod’s. In fact, if it happens, I imagine it will be via a statement he releases – or better yet a sincere, heartfelt apology he delivers into a microphone.
Regardless, some people will opt to ignore any apology that Peterson might ultimately make and that’s their prerogative. As Rodriguez said in his written apology, “"I accept the fact that many of you will not believe my apology or anything that I say at this point. I understand why and that's on me.”
But to me, and probably for at least some folks reading this, an apology feels like the right thing to do. It might make a difference so it’s worth a shot.
I’ll keep waiting.
Visit Vikings Journal for complete coverage of the NFL Combine and NFL Draft.
Bo Mitchell is the Vice President of Content at SportsData, head writer at VikingsJournal.com, co-host of the Fantasy Football Pants Party at 1500ESPN.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America.
You can follow Bo on Twitter at @Bo_Mitchell