“Stay in the moment and do what he knows he can do,” is how Lisa Salters described Adrian Peterson’s approach to his Minnesota return for the opening Monday Night Football telecast between his new Saints squad and his ex-lover, the Vikings.
Peterson contemplated not even coming out for pre-game, but he couldn't resist and there was a mountain of love waiting for him. Players, franchise employees and fans draped in Vikings purple and yellow were waiting to get a moment or an autograph with a guy who had everything to do with why they wear the jersey and root for their hometown Vikes.
Peterson, understandably, was trying to temper the moment. The emotion and anticipation could spiral out of control if he didn't control the situation and he did so beautifully, flashing the million dollar smile that made him one of the NFL’s most familiar and marketable faces.
Until the game began and that gracious, enthusiastic, lovable legend turned into a hungry wolf seeking its prey. Since he wasn’t allowed to do it on the football field, Peterson was captured giving New Orleans head coach Sean Payton the business coming out of halftime.
Adrian Peterson gave Sean Peyton the death stare. 😂 (via @ESPNNFL) https://t.co/v6rRIheTLi
Peterson addressed the incident after the game and on Twitter.
@SportsCenter Let's be clear...I said we need to run the ball up their Donkey. Nothing more. I'm passionate but respect my coach at the same time
It's understandable that AP would be upset. His big night was nothing but frustration. His first play from scrimmage was a nine-yard run, and then his action was very limited. He finished with just 18 yards on six carries and his number of snaps was the lowest of his career. His previous low was nine.
Adding insult to injury, the Saints ran 13 red zone plays and Purple Jesus was only on the field for two of them. If that wasn’t enough, AP’s rookie replacement in Minnesota, Dalvin Cook, broke his Vikings rookie rushing records of 107 yards in his first game. Cook was as advertised, exploding for 127 yards.
Welcome to the NFL, @dalvincook! 32-yard gain for the @vikings rookie RB. #SKOL #NOvsMIN https://t.co/iSsoFUYXm2
With all due respect to Mark Ingram, Peterson should be getting the rock in those situations. What did Payton sign him for if he wasn’t going to use him correctly?
I feel sorry for Adrian Peterson. I believed Sean Payton would give him a chance to be ADRIAN PETERSON again. I was so wrong.
Payton didn’t really react to the incident when reporters asked him what was said during the demonstrative exchange. Peterson said, “I wanna keep that confidential...I was just communicating with him. People just jump to conclusions and assumptions when they have no idea what's going on or what was said. “
We know what was going on. It was like Chinese water torture for Peterson to watch the Saints get denied in the red zone and you put him on the side like an old, wounded dog who you have no confidence in, despite his Hall of Fame credentials.
The 29-19 loss says Peterson had every right to be upset and Payton has every right to accept the blame for a lame game plan.