Adrian Peterson's Tantrum Pays Off
Adrian Peterson and the Minnesota Vikings have officially reconciled, proving that all will be forgiven -- even child abuse -- as long as you're the best running back in the game.
The Vikings announced Tuesday that the two sides have "mutually agreed to restructure the final three years of Peterson's contract." The Vikings didn't disclose specifics of the deal, but Mike Florio of NBC Sports reports that it carries $20 million more guaranteed (with part of that guaranteed only for injury). It likely also includes a lower base salary.
Although Peterson's previous contract had made him the highest-paid running back in the league -- including $36 million guaranteed over seven years -- it offered him no guaranteed money after 2015. In other words, Peterson managed to get himself a more secure payday less than a year after being arrested on a felony child-abuse charge.
Peterson missed all but one game last season, spending time on the Commissioner's Exempt List -- basically a paid suspension -- as the league sorted out his discipline for beating his four-year-old son with a switch. After he pleaded no contest to one count of misdemeanor reckless assault, agreeing to a $4,000 fine, 80 hours of community service, and probation, the NFL suspended him indefinitely without pay. His suspension was vacated in February by a U.S. District Court, and Peterson was reinstated in April. (The NFL is appealing that decision.)
The league's handling of Peterson's discipline was arbitrary and without precedent. That said, Peterson hasn't made any of this easier, starting with his initial refusal to show any kind of contrition for the violent abuse of a child. Then he chose not to show up at a disciplinary hearing in November and initially refused to attend voluntary off-season practices, demanding that the Vikings redo his deal to include more guaranteed money. "It's about securing my future with the Vikings," he told ESPN's Josina Anderson at the time.
Then, in May, Peterson went on a Twitter rant that lamented the one-sided nature of NFL contracts. It's true -- the NFL has successfully bullied the players' union into accepting largely non-guaranteed deals that often leave players high and dry once a team decides they're done with him for whatever reason. It's hard to begrudge an athlete playing hardball with management to secure his future.
And to be sure, the restructured contract is good for both sides, giving the Vikings more breathing room from the enormous salary-cap hit they were subjected to under his previous contract. (In July 2014, before Peterson's legal troubles, Grantland's Bill Barnwell ranked him as only the 42nd most valuable asset in the league, thanks to his crippling effect on the team's salary cap.)
But just so we all understand exactly what happened here: Adrian Peterson threw a tantrum and got the Vikings to guarantee more money essentially to prove their loyalty to him, as ESPN's Kevin Seifert put it. Peterson was reportedly mad that the Vikings "didn't stand by him" during his legal issues -- although let's not forget the team was more than happy to send him back out onto the field after just one game until national sponsors like Radisson and Mylan pulled their sponsorship dollars.
Let's also not forget that Peterson's initial deal gave him more guaranteed money than any other running back in the league -- a contract he happily signed. In fact, the $20 million extra he just scored brings his total guaranteed windfall to $56 million. That's quarterback money, more than even Calvin Johnson's ridiculous contract provides, and good for fourth among all players.
And now, because of some petulance and entitlement, you have a guy who hasn't played in a year, and who's an admitted child abuser, gushing about the "additional security" he managed to squeeze out of a terrible situation he happened to create. That's "fairness" in the NFL: If you have enough talent, you can act like a child, even when you endanger one.
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