The Minnesota Vikings star’s decision to play should not face criticism.
No one should want what happened to Adrian Peterson last week to happen to him.
Yet how another person handles the murder of a 2-year-old son might not be the way Peterson, star running back for the Minnesota Vikings, handled the killing of his son Ty. Peterson didn’t put his life on hold; he didn’t closet himself in grief; he didn’t break down in public, although who could fault the man if he did. Peterson dressed and played football Sunday, which is what seems to bother so many people.
From Internet chats to a classroom in Athens, Ohio, so many people have expressed disapproval of his decision. How could he play a game with his son’s killing so fresh in his mind? Did Peterson not love his son enough to sit down and mourn?
In a text to a FOX Sports reporter, Peterson wrote: "My brother passed the night before the combine and I decided to go through with it. The same reason why I will play this week. You may ask why? ... We mourn and grieve but heaven had the baddest welcoming party for my son. That knowledge gives me peace. I'm still hurt and feel the pain of life, but I'm able to function because of the peace and joy of knowing my loved ones are in a much better place."
There, that should be that.
It never is, though. You still hear people on sports talk radio and in bars here and there saying what they would have done. They question how a father could play with his son’s death heavy in his heart. They wonder about how much love a father could have if he put playing football ahead of paying proper respect to a child he fathered.
Peterson shouldn’t need to answer to those people. He must answer to himself and, frankly, to a higher calling: his God.
His God has taken his son to a better place, someplace without the hatred and the senselessness that often mar life here.
“God wants good to come from it,” Peterson wrote in his text.
Often, we can’t find good in circumstances like this. We spin ourselves in knots trying to find reasons for it. Seldom do those reasons come to us. What we find, instead, are more questions to answer: How does a 2-year-old become a crime victim?
As fans of sports, we spend too much of our lives meddling into athletes’ lives. It’s not enough that we deify a star like Peterson. We also want access to him wherever his life goes. We want a say in it – almost all of us do.
Peterson didn’t want us there, not in this moment of tragedy. He handled his grief the only way he could: on his terms, not anybody else’s. He should hear cheers for that as well.
The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.
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(Photo: Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)