By Clark Judge
Talk of Fame Network
Score one for the Minnesota Vikings.
Locked in a stare-down with recalcitrant running back Adrian Peterson, the Vikings won by making “AD” blink. He returned to the team Tuesday, and he did it, he said, because “I just wanted to.” OK, fine. But let’s be honest, people. He did it because he had to. And he knew it.
Unfortunately for Peterson, so did the Vikings.
They had the leverage. He did not. And as much as agent Ben Dogra tried to shake, rattle and roll the Vikings with trade talk and demands for a new contract, they did not waver. GM Rick Spielman didn’t budge. Coach Mike Zimmer didn’t budge. Nobody budged … including, in the end, Adrian Peterson.
But he had little choice. He’s under contract for the next three years. So, as Zimmer so perfectly put it a week ago, “he can play for us, or he can not play. He’s not going to play for anybody else, and that’s just the way it’s going to be.”
I”d say that just about sums it up. The Vikings held the hammer, and Adrian Peterson was the nail. He could sit out OTAs, and he could sit out training camp. Heck, he could sit out the season. The choice was his.
But the Vikings didn’t have to do squat. Sure, Peterson is their best player. But this isn’t about personnel. This is about a principle. It wasn’t the Vikings’ fault that Adrian Peterson was forced to sit down last year. It was his. And now that he’s free to return, they made it clear what his choices were.
As Zimmer said, he could play for them, or he could not. They operated without him a year ago, and they were prepared to operate without him again.
In essence, their message was this: You don’t run this franchise. We do. You may be a star player, and you may be a Hall-of-Famer in the making, but in the end you’re the employee, and we’re the employer. Plus, you’re under contract … to us … through 2017.
But there’s more. Adrian Peterson is a 30-year-old running back, which means he’s a descending player. He also hasn’t played in nearly a year. Yet he makes top dollar for a guy at his position, which means he makes $13 million in a sport that is supposed to be a passing … not a running … game.
I don’t know where he’s going to find that kind of money elsewhere, and I don’t imagine Adrian Peterson does, either – which is another reason he returned to the Vikings.
What part of this is so difficult to understand?
In the end, then, common sense … and the Minnesota Vikings … prevailed. Adrian Peterson did what he had to do, which is swallow his pride, put a sock in the rhetoric and do what was necessary. And the Minnesota Vikings did what they had to do … which was nothing.
In this year’s Hall-of-Fame moves, the Minnesota Vikings move to the head of the class.