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Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Adrian Peterson Slavery Comment Obscures Important Message

There are some phrases and words that refer to such sensitive situations in American society they cannot be uttered without repercussion. Mention Hitler, Pearl Harbor, Vietnam, abortion, or The Holocaust as a basis of comparison for an unrelated subject, and you risk some serious negative backlash. It doesn’t even matter what you’re actually saying either — drop one of those phrases outside the realm of history class, and you could be in for a public beatdown. It actually reminds me of the scene from Meet the Parents where Greg says “it’s not like I have a bomb in the suitcase” while he was on an airplane. It didn’t matter that he said he didn’t have one, because once he mentioned the word “bomb,” everyone freaked out.

The same exact thing happened with Adrian Peterson.

In an interview Friday just after the owners locked out the NFL players, Doug Farrar spoke with the Vikings star running back who made the mistake of evoking one of these comparisons, and the valid points he was making is now obscured by the unfortunate reference. Here’s what he said in its entirety to provide you proper contest:

From Yahoo! Sports’ Shutdown Corner:

SC: We’re talking about 15 minutes after the NFLPA sent in the paperwork to decertify, so the lockout’s on everybody’s minds. I’ve talked to a lot of players about this recently, and I always ask the same question — what is the message you want to get out to the people who love the game and are tired of hearing all the labor talk?

AP: We’re business-minded, also. It’s not just fun and games. A lot of football players, whether it’s Sunday or Monday night — we’re out there on the field, competing, hitting each other. But people don’t see everything else behind it. It’s a job for us, too — every day of the week. We’re in different states, sometimes thousands of miles away from our families and kids, and a lot of people don’t look at it like that. All some people see is, ‘Oh, we’re not going to be around football.’ But how the players look at it … the players are getting robbed. They are. The owners are making so much money off of us to begin with. I don’t know that I want to quote myself on that…

SC: It’s nothing that I haven’t heard from other players, believe me.

AP: It’s modern-day slavery, you know? People kind of laugh at that, but there are people working at regular jobs who get treated the same way, too. With all the money … the owners are trying to get a different percentage, and bring in more money. I understand that; these are business-minded people. Of course this is what they are going to want to do. I understand that; it’s how they got to where they are now. But as players, we have to stand our ground and say, ‘Hey — without us, there’s no football.’ There are so many different perspectives from different players, and obviously we’re not all on the same page — I don’t know. I don’t really see this going to where we’ll be without football for a long time; there’s too much money lost for the owners. Eventually, I feel that we’ll get something done.

Much of the public gets lost as soon as they hear the “slavery” comment. Most people probably never read the full interview and quote, and don’t realize that Peterson was also defending people who work at “regular jobs.” And you know what? I agree.

How many of you are happy where you work? Do you feel like you’re working your butt off just to make your owner richer? I own this website and have some people on staff who also contribute posts. I try to ensure they have as much incentive to contribute as I do and that they are compensated fairly for their efforts. That’s why I can’t stand websites like Bleacher Report and Huffington Post whose business model is to pump search engines with high quantities of low-quality content while NOT PAYING THEIR WRITERS. This injustice is exactly what Peterson is talking about.

Just because football players make millions of dollars doesn’t mean they’re not entitled to fairness, and it doesn’t mean they’re not getting taken advantage of. Peterson wasn’t saying that playing for the NFL owners is slavery in the sense that they don’t have any rights, aren’t educated, and are owned by masters. He said it’s modern-day slavery, and I think he meant it in the sense that people are getting taken advantage of by much wealthier people. And if that’s the context in which he invoked the reference — which I believe it is — then I completely agree with what he said.

Say what you want about these “spoiled, millionaire athletes” or whatever names you want to call the NFL players, but I have their back. These guys give their bodies, minds, and health to put on great shows for us each weekend during football season. Many of them suffer lifelong injuries for giving up their bodies on Sundays. In my opinion, they’re not getting a fair deal from the owners, and I have no problem with Adrian Peterson or other players speaking up to say so. It’s just too bad that Peterson did not go about getting his message across the right way.

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