It’s not often that MVPs find peace and solace in a blowout loss. But that’s exactly what Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson found on Sunday in his team’s 35-10 defeat on Sunday.
Just two days before Peterson racked up 83 total yards against the Carolina Panthers, his two-year old son died in Sioux Falls, S.D., after allegedly being abused by Joseph Patterson, the boyfriend of the child’s mother. Patterson has since been arrested charged with aggravated battery of an infant and aggravated assault.
It’s almost assumed that when loved ones die, those close to them put their work lives on hold, at least for a short period of time, to mourn the loss. But that wasn’t Peterson’s approach.
In fact, he never even thought about missing the game.
“I was set on it,” Peterson said, according to ESPN. “I just look at things and I don’t ask people to understand my mindset and how I think.”
While most people will thankfully never have to deal with a situation like Peterson’s and experience that mindset, his overarching message this weekend is that on the football field is where he finds peace.
Before playing on Sunday, Peterson told reporters that football is a vehicle he uses to deal with the pains that life brings.
“I’m able to release a lot of stress through sports,” Peterson said, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
And that’s ultimately what sports is all about. It’s about giving people who otherwise wouldn’t find purpose in life a purpose. It’s about providing a place for athletes, coaches, fans and those that work so hard in the sports industry a place to relieve stress.
The Kansas City Chiefs experienced tragedy last season when former linebacker Jovan Belcher killed his girlfriend and then himself. A day later, the Chiefs played against the Panthers in Arrowhead Stadium and won their second and last game of the 2012 season.
There was a lot of speculation leading up to that game a year ago that the Chiefs shouldn’t play the game in order to have more time to grieve. But the team saw it differently. They saw the field at Arrowhead Stadium as an escape. As a place to be at peace, if only for a few hours.
That’s the approach Peterson almost surely had on Sunday. The process of dealing with the death of a child is painful and, for some, never-ending. Peterson should absolutely take some time off to mourn the loss of his son and figure out what exactly happened.
But on Sunday, for a few hours, Peterson was able to simply focus on football.
As for Patterson, prosecutors absolutely need to charge him with murder and, should he be convicted, he should be sentenced to death. It’s time to stop being so soft with people that hurt children.
Jerry Sandusky, the Penn State coach that was convicted of molesting boys, wasn’t even given a life sentence for sexually abusing dozens of boys. Adam Lanza, the shooter in the Sandy Hook tragedy, was analyzed by various people in the media as a troubled 20-year-old who had a distant mother.
It’s time to stop making excuses for the monsters that hurt children, and instead treat them like the monsters they are.