Columnist Jim Souhan from the Star Tribune in Minnesota joined Dennis & Callahan on Monday to discuss the Adrian Peterson situation. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Adrian Peterson might miss the rest of the season while he deals with legal issues related to his beating of his son. (Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
The Vikings have faced criticism all week, including a lot from Souhan, on how they handled Peterson after the running back was charged with abuse of his 4-year-old son. Initially, the Vikings planned on letting Peterson play Sunday against the Saints. But the team eventually bowed to public pressure, putting the player on the exempt-commissioner’s list, meaning Peterson has to stay away from all team activities.
Souhan said the league and the Vikings had no other choice but to pull Peterson from the field.
“[The league] did the right thing after they saw the second Ray Rice video, which nobody had to actually see,” Souhan said. “The Vikings have more arrests than anybody in the NFL since the year 2000. They’ve had more off-field embarrassments than team in professional sports. And that’s saying something. That’s a high bar. And they still have no idea how to handle crises — none. [The Vikings] embarrassed themselves on Monday.
“The only reason they deactivated [Peterson] over the weekend was because they didn’t know what to do. It wasn’t like they were making a grand gesture. They just didn’t know what to do. They were in such a panic.”
Vikings general manager Rick Spielman has come under fire for the way he’s handled the situation, especially after he initially voiced support for Peterson.
“Actually, I don’t think he’s a bad guy,” Souhan said of Spielman. “He’s adopted a lot of kids. He and his wife, they try and be really good parents. Away from the field, I think he’s a good guy. But he’s a classic stopwatch football guy. He has 40 times going through his head. He has 18 million stats, and he has vertical leaps. He has all that stuff built in his head. He can’t process this kind of stuff. He’s a football guy. That’s the problem ‘ the organization has nobody who can or will deal with big picture issues. The Wilfs are gutless. Ziggy’s incapable of public speaking.”
With the allegations and pending legal action, many have wondered whether Peterson will suit up in a Vikings uniform ever again.
“I think he’s done, I don’t think he comes back here,” Souhan said. “He’s going to turn 30 this offseason. He’s going to turn 30 in an offseason where he’s going to go to trial and possibly will be given some jail time. The Vikings will already start to move down the road of most modern NFL franchises saying, ‘Do we want to pay a star running back tons of money at position that just doesn’t make as much as difference as it used to in the NFL?’ They were already kind of gearing up to ask him to pay cut. They were already going to have some contractual issues in the offseason. This makes it obviously very convenient to cut him and move on.”
Continued Souhan: “But the real question to me is does an NFL team, another NFL team, pick him up? And of course the first team that comes to mind is the Cowboys. You have Jerry Jones, who likes spectacles, who doesn’t care about negative publicity as long as it’s publicity. Adrian grew up in East Texas, lives in Houston.”
Following are more highlights from the interview.
On whether Peterson will be paid for the rest of the season: “I haven’t confirmed it, but I believe it to be true. I think [the Vikings] hope by just suspending him that they get both things that they want, which is not having Adrian Peterson on the field and not having a huge legal fight with the either the NFLPA or Adrian’s lawyers. This is them kind of splitting the difference, get what they want. They’re basically paying Adrian Peterson off.”
On if Peterson was known as a bad guy before this incident: “No, I had no idea. I actually liked the guy. I admired him as an athlete, he’s maximum effort player. Truly as an athlete, he was completely admirable. In terms of effort, in terms of being a teammate, I know some of his teammates really rave about how he handles himself in the locker room. This was absolutely shocking.”
On Vikings fans and their support for Peterson: “There’s that small group of really stupid people who will support the local team and support the local star no matter what. They need their fix. They need their fix of good sport on Sunday. … Judging from emails from comment sections, any way you can judge public reaction these days, my guess is about 20 percent of Minnesotans are in that stupid category. I’d say maybe 30 percent of Minnesotans like the phrase due process. They don’t agree with what Peterson did but they think that it’s got to go for the full court system before you can make any judgment, which is stupid because due process has nothing to do with company relationships with their employees. And I’d say 50 percent of Minnesotans are absolutely disgusted.”
On the Vikings locker room and the players’ reaction to the events: “They’re all just giving me the most convenient line, which is, ‘We support Adrian, it’s really none of our business, we’d like to have him back so we can win on Sunday. But we’re not going to get into the legal stuff.’ I don’t know what else they can say. … They’re caught in between.”