Analysis

Say No to AP: Grow the Distance

Why do I keep seeing these online reports of speculation about Adrian Peterson returning to the Vikings? This shouldn’t be happening. Why? Because it won’t be happening, for starters, and it shouldn’t be happening on any account.

The days of Purple Jesus are over. (Unless he signs with Baltimore.) AP has moved on and every year away helps to rebuild and restore his reputation for the day when he comes back to Minnesota and gets his name in the Vikings Ring of Honor, or gets his Hall of Fame ring at halftime of a Vikings game. Distance helps; so let the distance grow.

Peterson had a HOF career in Minnesota, for which he was beloved by many. Then he had a hall of infamy incident which clouded his legacy and put most Minnesota fans into one of two camps: yea or nay. But Peterson left, and Vikings fans didn’t have to address it anymore.

AP had a bad seasons abroad (in New Orleans and Arizona) and then wound up in Washington, where he spent much of the season in the top five of running backs, revitalized his on-field reputation and separated himself even further from the ugly incident of 2014. It led to Hall of Fame running back Terrell Davis to say the following on NFL Network:

“It’s time to bring AP back home. It’s time to bring him back to Minnesota. Think about it, Latavius Murray may be out of there. You still like Dalvin Cook, he’s going to be there. But remember, this is a two-back league now. You bring Adrian back. What I saw last year, there was a lot of gas in the tank and it would be phenomenal to see him finish his career off in Minnesota where it all started.”

And then writers (such as myself) on websites (such as this one) picked up the story and furthered it by commenting on it. Guilty as charged. But only because I want it to stop (and I will accept the clicks). In fact, Skor North facetiously put together an all “bring them back” team (we think it’s facetious) on Twitter in response. My question for all of this is, didn’t the Vikings learn their lesson when they did this with Randy Moss? Do we remember how that turned out?

Okay, it’s the offseason, so I’ll bite. First, here’s why it won’t happen. The Vikings have moved on. The Vikings were desperate and wanted AP back during the spanking debacle enough to go down to Texas to get him, but those days are done. When Peterson came back in 2015, he had a decent season 1,485 yards and 11 rushing touchdowns, but things were never like they were before that.

Even though now, head coach Mike Zimmer would love a running back who could tote the rock effectively enough to set up play action, Peterson is not the guy to do that, and he became more of a headache for the team than his production could offset, so the Vikings gladly let him go and they moved on with their lives. Zim and Rick Spielman are not looking back.

They drafted Dalvin Cook to replace Peterson, which is the beginning of why it shouldn’t happen. Cook is younger, faster, and more well-rounded back than AP (now), and that means he is a better pass-catcher and pass protector and can stay on the field for third downs and make defenses believe in the play-action thing—which is supposed to be quarterback Kirk Cousins forte.

Peterson had a very good season in 2018 (1,042 yards and seven rushing touchdowns—including a 90-yarder, the longest of his career and not bad for a soon-to-be 34-yard-old). But it is not one likely to be repeated here (or anywhere) with Cook getting the lion’s share of the carries.

And Peterson cooling his jets on the sideline watching the Vikings current three-down back in the game (while AP hears the clock ticking away on his opportunity to pass Emmitt Smith for the all-time rushing lead )is just not something anyone wants to witness. Do we recall those shots of Peterson on the Saints sidelines at U.S. Bank Stadium when he wasn’t getting enough carriers? Not pretty.

The Vikings have a better version of a back still on the roster until he becomes a free agent in Latavius Murray. There is no guarantee that Murray returns, but that is no reason to re-sign Peterson and stir up that turmoil before it has completely settled (the Vikings also like Mike Boone and Roc Thomas). The Vikings don’t want it; Adrian Peterson’s wife doesn’t want it; and I think it is safe to assume that Peterson doesn’t want it.

Peterson still has revenge in his heart toward the Vikings, more than he has a love for a return. Have we forgotten how AP told reporters that he wanted to knock the Vikings out of the playoffs this past season? (Of course, neither team made the postseason and the Vikings grabbing AP this offseason isn’t going to be the catalyst to change that prospect for either squad.)

The bottom line is that the Vikings should and will say no to this. And all of us who follow, observe and cheer for the Purple should do so, as well. Time is the healer that is needed in this situation now. Surely you enjoyed the return of Moss years after his second and regrettable tour with Minnesota. Time will provide us the opportunity to enjoy Peterson’s return, also. But that time is not here yet.

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Joe Oberle

Joe Oberle is a veteran sportswriter/editor/reporter and has covered the Vikings since 2008. The author of three books, he has been published in numerous periodicals and websites. He is the managing editor for VikingsTerritory.com and purplePTSD.com, as well.

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5 Comments

  1. There is nothing to heal from.. Stop with that narrative. We’re adults. We want to win. It’s about football. Can he produce on the field? Yes. Did he accomplish 1.4k in 2015 with a shotgun QB? Yes. Is he still productive? Yes. Does our current scheme fit his style? Yes.. Is it a two back league? Yes. … No there isn’t certainty that it would work, nothing is certain. But if he wanted to come back and work in tandem with Dalvin, any true football mind, would accept it. If he came back, would you not watch? If we won a ring with him, do you say it’s not worth it then. Vick could have gone back to ATL if they needed him and the world would have kept spinning, and of course people will be fake outraged, and some might devote their time to it but tickets would still sell…

    1. Ignoring the child abuse stuff, then (that feels gross even writing, though): AP hasn’t shown he can produce as a third down guy. I recall Zimmer saying that they’d put Murray in every third series when Dalvin was healthy, do you think AP could produce when used that infrequently? That he’d be happy and wouldn’t pull what he did with the Saints? That we could rely on him on crucial goalline plays (I get flashes of the 2009 NFC championship)?

      I didn’t write this but I know Joe pretty well. I am more of the type that wants to win a Super Bowl bad enough to consider keeping problem players if it’d help the team. So, I know Joe wouldn’t stop watching (even if it wasn’t his job to do so), however, it does feel gross to love a league this much when it doesn’t have consistent (or sometimes any) standards when it comes to not only how these super powerful men use that power on those weaker than them, on those they are supposed to love and protect, on those who can’t fight back.

      I want the Vikings to win a Super Bowl almost more than I want children. But I don’t want to get it that way and AP isn’t the solution anyway.

      1. I admitted that personality wise, he may not mesh. I think if he resigned then that shows he knows what his role will be. It would be a worry if he was traded to us. But of his own free accord, means he’s humbled. So he worked with us all the years prior when he came off for Chester Taylor and asiata but now it can’t work if it’s Dalvin Cook.. Dalvin has yet to handle a full season. I also prefer Cook in space rather than up the middle.. No reason they both can’t be used if Cook is essentially our WR3.. As far as abusing power, that happens in every facet of life..I do not believe his intent was malicious but instead trained and engrained, and done with the intent of molding his child in the same manner he was molded. You should not blame or condemn a man without looking at his intent and heart. He’s done many things for his kids and multiple communities. Was it a misguided form of discipline, yes but also debatable. Is it correctable way of thinking, yes. A person can only use the tools they have in their tool belt. As a veteran who’s been judged when I’ve shown symptoms of PTSD, I don’t like to assume, I don’t like to judge, and I try to understand why someone is the way they are. Now if this had become a repeat incident after he went through training, then you can declare malice, and abuse, because he has new tools and failed to utilize them.

  2. Peterson is even less likely to be able to be an effective RB2 than Murray. They both need carries, bunches of carries, to be truly effective. We need a running back who can come in for five to seven rushing plays per game and have an immediate impact, and ideally matetr in the passing game, too. That’s just not Peterson, especially at this stage of his career.

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