Thursday, September 18, 2014

Vikings change course with AP, conveniently after sponsor backlash

He's suspended. Now he'll play. Oh, wait a minute, I guess he'll be put on the NFL exemption list. Don't worry, he still gets paid.

In case you haven't followed the seesaw of drama floating out of Winter Park this past week, I'm talking about Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, who was indicted by a grand jury last week on charges of reckless or negligent injury to a child.

After he was suspended from playing in the team's home opener last weekend, the team announced Monday (after a 30-7 loss to the Patriots) that Peterson would play while the legal process plays out regarding child abuse allegations toward Peterson.

Peterson's out
Wednesday, the Vikings front office changed its mind again. Peterson is now on the exemption list, meaning he won't be a part of team activities until the legal issues are resolved. With this new development, it's quite unlikely that Peterson will play another down of football with the Vikings this season. I also heard a plea agreement is not in the works and the matter will go to a jury trial. Of course, that can always change later.

To see this news unfold over the past few days has been interesting. After Monday's announcement, sponsorship deals fell apart and others, like a huge deal the NFL has with Anheuser-Busch, threatened to end. Radisson Hotels pulled it's sponsorship, making the backdrop for Vikings news conferences look a little different. Other companies in deals with Peterson pulled their money as well.

Then the Vikings announce they wanted to "get it right" and therefore put Peterson on the exemption list. The bigwigs at the news conference were asked if Peterson's performance on the field or the fall outs in sponsorship had anything to do with the decision. The answer was no.

We can guess...
But really, what were they supposed to say? I think all the backlash from the original decision to let him play, combined with his on-the-field talent and then the lost sponsor money all played a part in reversing the decision this week. But the team doesn't want to admit any of that, of course.

I'm glad to see the second decision, that Peterson won't play, even though it's quite interesting how the team arrived at that decision. Whether it's true or not, here's how you can read into it: Peterson is suspended. The Vikings lose big. Now Peterson will play, because the Vikings need his talent. Wait, now the team is losing money and support because of the decision, so I guess we better change our minds and keep him off the field.

Don't be a coward
One other thing to note, Vikings owner Zygi Wilf showed up at Wednesday's news conference, but he didn't take questions. And with all the negative, off-field news surfacing recently in the league, NFL commissioner Roger Goddell has been publicly silent. That's just not right.

The owners and big-shots are sure to take credit where it's due for the good things, like new stadium groundbreakings. But it's even more important to be there when things aren't so good. It's called taking responsibility.

I am in support of the league doing whatever it can to let players know they can't act however they choose just because they can play football. An NFL uniform does not give you permission to be above the law.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Vikings' AP in legal trouble, team says he can play anyway

I don't think I've written about the Minnesota Vikings on here before. I'm just not really a fan. But the recent child abuse allegations against star running back Adrian Peterson are a good example of something I'd like to write about.

Everyone seems to have an opinion on the situation. Do you think he did it, meaning hit his 4-year-old son with a stick? Should he be allowed to play football? Should he be suspended until the legal process plays out?

Let's review. News broke last Friday that Peterson was indicted by a grand jury on charges of reckless or negligent injury to a child. As a result, Peterson didn't play in Sunday's home opener. The Vikings lost 30-7 to the New England Patriots.

AP will play, Vikings say
Monday, the team announced that Peterson would not be suspended but will play this weekend. They'll leave the allegations up to the legal system to sort out. But in the meantime, Peterson can return to his job on the football field.

By Monday night, another allegation surfaced of Peterson abusing another son of his.

So, what changed from Friday to Monday, when Peterson was first deactivated from playing but now will play this weekend? Oh that's right, AP is arguably the NFL's best running back, and the Vikes got pounded in its loss without him suiting up against the Pats. That must be the reason, right?

It's funny that the Vikings announced Peterson will be able to play while the case goes through court. They're giving him the benefit of the doubt, innocent until proven guilty. That's fine, but where was that logic with other Vikings players who have been in legal trouble?

Double standards
The team wasted no time releasing A.J. Jefferson last year after he was arrested for domestic assault. No waiting around for the legal process in that instance. But Jefferson wasn't the greatest player in the league crucial to his team's success, like AP. I guess that's the difference.

I don't know what the policies are for the NFL or the Vikings when it comes to players in legal hot water, but it's not a place for double standards. Actually, the Vikes should be used to dealing with these "distractions," as they call them, by now. According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the Vikings have had more players arrested since 2000 than any other NFL team. It's 44, to be exact.

There's a lot of emphasis in this situation put on winning football games. Peterson is a franchise player for the Vikings, and everybody knows it. Just because he can score touchdowns and rack up near-record-breaking yardage does not mean Peterson gets to be above the law and act however he wants.

Win baby, win
Winning isn't everything. Under child abuse allegations, Peterson gets to continue his job this week. How many other people would still have their jobs if they were in the same situation?

If you think I'm being harsh here, that may be so. But the alleged actions Peterson took against his child(ren) were harsh, too. It's sparked debate in the gray area of what goes too far when it comes to disciplining your child.

In a statement from Peterson, he said he is not a child abuser. Maybe not in his mind, but now it's in the hands of lawyers, a judge and possibly a jury.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Four years of not-missing-much baseball for the Twins

I haven't written much about the Minnesota Twins in some time. For those not keeping up with the team, you aren't missing anything.

The Twins are on pace to lose at least 90 games for the fourth year in a row. I still maintain they should have just gone for No. 100 in 2011, when they finished 63-99. (I mean, if you're going to lose, you might as well lose big.) Quite the reversal from all those American League Central Division titles in the past decade. It really is too bad.

Lately, I've watched more games than I have earlier in the year. The Twins have had some good showings. Some offense, a few towering home runs, good pitching at times. But it's easy to see they're a struggling team, especially when they can't close out games, or they give up a late lead.

Who are these guys?
At 19 games out of first place, it's a certainty the Twins won't be playing any October baseball. I'm sure a lot of us knew the possibility of playoffs was pretty remote when the season started, actually. The roster just doesn't look as appealing as it did a few years ago.

No more Justin Morneau, Jason Kubel or Michael Cuddyer. More recently, Josh Willingham was dealt away this season. Remember when the Cy Young winner Johan Santana pitched for the Twins? Now there's Danny Santana on the roster, a 23-year-old infielder.

The Joe Mauer soap opera continues. He was injured earlier this season and missed the All Star game held in his home park this year. Figures. I called that one last year. He's played in plenty of All Star games so far, but sure enough, he's too hurt to play in the one at Target Field. Actually, his early-season performance at the plate probably wouldn't have earned him a spot on the team anyway. Mauer moved to first base this year, which I think has worked out fine. It's also helped that the catcher, Kurt Suzuki, has provided an offensive spark, earning himself a spot on the All Star team.

Let's hope for the future
Not that there haven't been exciting moments or games for the Twins this season, but overall, it's hard to get excited about a club that is the division basement dweller. I heard earlier in the year that 2015 could be the start of something good for the team. Maybe that's when we'll see the superstar Byron Buxton get bumped up to the majors, although he's been plagued by injuries this season.

If nothing else, I'd like to see some kind of turn around next year. Maybe it's not losing 90 games, or maybe it's finishing second or third in the division. We'll see. There needs to be some kind of improvement to keep Minnesota fans interested in between watching Vikings football.

Of course, after four years of hard-to-watch baseball, and a Target-Field honeymoon that's long over, the off-season will likely include all kinds of talk about Manager Ron Gardenhire and General Manager Terry Ryan getting the hook. So far, all the organization seems to do is move coaches around to different positions. That's the biggest shake up they've created. I'll probably dive into this topic more later.