(SportsNetwork.com) – Employee loyalty generally begins with a company’s
A worker, whether he makes minimum wage or the $14 million Adrian Peterson
raked in last season to keep his stained brand away from the Minnesota
Vikings, wants to believe if the job is done in an efficient manner, the
organization he works for will support him.
In today’s politically correct environment, though, no company is sticking by
a representative who is being thrown to the wolves in the court of public
opinion, and that’s the crux of what is now an inevitable divorce between
Peterson and the Vikings.
Peterson, a three-time All-Pro in Minnesota who was once one of the faces of
the NFL, told ESPN Thursday he is unsure about the prospect of returning to
the Vikings in 2015.
Peterson blames the team for working with Roger Goodell and the league to put
the superstar on the then little-known commissioner’s exempt list last
September, stemming from child-abuse charges which ultimately resulted in the
star running back pleading no contest to a misdemeanor.
The 2012 NFL MVP called that result an “ambush,” adding, “There were people (in
the organization) that I trusted, who knew exactly what was said, that weren’t
heard from” when he was trying to get back on the field.
Peterson’s camp believes Kevin Warren, the Vikings’ then vice president of
legal affairs who was promoted to the team’s COO earlier this month, is the
one who threw the six-time Pro Bowl selection under the bus.
“It shows you can have all the loyalty toward someone and toward an
organization, a fan base, but when things really shift and it’s you or the
empire, they’re gonna put you out on a leash,” Peterson claimed.
“I said, ‘Of course (I prefer to come back to the Vikings).’ I said it.” he
continued. “But my emotions, as far as those things I feel, those are for
players like (linebacker) Chad Greenway, those guys that play the game just
like me, that have the same passion I have, the same goal I have, to win a
championship. That’s where it comes from. It don’t come from the organization.
I’m not in a good place when it comes to that.”
Minnesota still holds all the cards, though, because Peterson remains under
contract for the 2015 season. His base salary, however, is scheduled to be
$12.75 million and he plays a position that has been devalued around the
Just about everyone at the top of the Vikings organization from team president
Mark Wilf to general manager Rick Spielman, coach Mike Zimmer and even Warren
have all claimed they want Peterson back, but that could be lip service in an
effort to try to acquire something for Peterson’s rights.
“Adrian Peterson is under contract with us,” Spielman said at the NFL Scouting
Combine. “He’s a very unique football player. I’m sure Adrian is doing
everything he can do off the field. He made a mistake, he admitted a mistake.
I’m sure he’s doing everything he can to not only make himself better as a
football player but also a better person off the field, and that’s the type of
person Adrian is.
“He’s a suspended player right now and then we’ll see where it goes from
there. But there’s no question, I don’t think any team in the NFL wouldn’t
want an Adrian Peterson-caliber running back on their football team.”
Peterson had a different take.
“I know there are a lot of people in the organization who want me back,” he
said. “But then again, I know the ones who don’t.”
That’s another nod toward Warren, the highest-ranking African-American
executive on the business side for an NFL team and a man, whether it’s true or
not, Peterson believes showed no loyalty and helped create the atmosphere
where the torches and pitchforks emerged.
“I have a wife who was able to sit back and see how people in Minnesota said
this and said that, how media in Minnesota took the head of the situation with
my child, and were digging into things that weren’t even relevant,” he said.
“That wasn’t people in Texas (Peterson’s home state where the charges were
leveled) — it was people in Minnesota that dug in and brought things out.
That impacted me, but, most importantly, it impacted the people around me — my
family, my kids.
“This came from the state I love so much, that I wish to bring a championship
to? This is how they treat me when I’m down and out? You kick me?”
Zimmer, known as a no-nonsense guy, has been more straightforward than most.
In a pure football sense, the head coach understands just how much easier
Peterson could make things for emerging second-year quarterback Teddy
“You understand that if you get him back, he’s a different special guy,” Zimmer
said. “But you always have plans based on what if this guy is back this is an
opportunity of what we have to do with him. And not all guys can run like
Adrian can, so there’s a lot of different things you can do with him than some
of the other guys.”
Zimmer also understands, however, any future relationship must be a “two-way
“I would respect Adrian’s decision,” the coach said. “I’ll always be honest
with him and up-front, but I’m gonna try to explain to him the reasons why I
would like to him to be here.”
Peterson, though, probably won’t be listening.
“My wife (and I), we’ve had several conversations about me returning to
Minnesota, what the best options are. If I left it up to her, I’d be somewhere
else today, and that’s with her weighing everything. It’s a lot for me to
weigh; she understands that. But there are some things that I’m still uneasy