Terrible personal tragedies define us as people. How we respond to hardship likely will tell us how we will respond in prosperity.
In the sports world, hardship can refer to many things: a slump, declining of one’s skills, recovery from a severe injury, pressure signing a big contract, etc.
Few players are saddled with almost any one of these hardships like Vikings’ running back Adrian Peterson. In just six seasons in the NFL, he’s become the dominant running back in the NFL. He’s set record books aflame the same way he’s torched defenses with about the same ferocity and speed. Last season, he recovered from one of the worst injuries you can possibly suffer as a running back and he came back stronger and better than ever. And he’s done this all as the face, heart, soul and spirit of an entire organization.
After we all learned of the awful story of Peterson’s recently deceased son, it seemed fairly obvious that the Vikings would be going into the week without their heart and soul. But almost as quickly as we learned of what happened in South Dakota, Peterson announced that he will indeed be ready to go for his team’s Week 6 match up with the Carolina Panthers.
I can’t imagine the emotions Peterson must be going through at this moment. I am not a father, nor have I ever seen or heard of such an inhumane, evil act carried out on a toddler, no less. But at this point in his life, Adrian Peterson needs no sympathy.
I don’t worry about him or his well-being. Frankly, I feel worse for the Carolina defense that will try to stop him this Sunday.
This is not to say that I do not care about Peterson’s well-being or the death of his child. That’s far from the truth. I am merely pointing out the obvious fact that Peterson has been through so much in his career that he will show us on Sunday why he is the player that he is.
Having never seen Walter Payton play in person is one of the more disappointing things as a Chicago Bears fan. I’m jealous of all who ever got to see him play.
I’m sure that my children will tell me the same thing about Adrian Peterson when all is said and done. His talent is once-in-a-lifetime. He will be one of the top running backs to ever play in the NFL.
And while his life may crash around him during these difficult times, I’m confident that Peterson will not be affected on the field.
I pray for Peterson and his family during this tragedy.
This Sunday, I might have to do the same for the Panthers’ defense.