It seems like any time a Vikings player gets arrested, whether it be Peterson for resisting arrest when a cop-turned-bouncer tells him, "You don't have to go home, but you can't stay here" or much more serious charges like Chris Cook's domestic dispute, a litany of other players get herded together in the standard cattle call rush to judgment.
This shouldn't be misconstrued as serving as a forum to be a Peterson apologist. If you believe reports coming out of TMZ (the new CNN when it comes to breaking news), the manager at the Houston club in which A.P. was arrested went on record to say that he was extremely intoxicated and something of a pain in the butt all night to the staff. Yet, somehow in the sports/celebrity world, when any arrest (or ticketing for a mere traffic offense) happens, it serves as a moment to cull all the infractions committed by other players on that team.
Whether in local media reports or national accounts of the Peterson incident, for some reason, teammates who had nothing to do with what happened in the early morning hours Saturday in Houston get tied together and their infractions re-hashed as if to make NFL players cautionary tales to "good society." There is no connection whatsoever to Peterson's arrest and cases like Cook, who was accused of choking and hitting his girlfriend, or Darrion Scott, who was arrested and subsequently suspended three games by the NFL on charges of trying to quiet his 2-year-old son by putting a dry-cleaning bag over his head to get him to stop crying.
None of these incidents have anything in common. They are isolated and singular. Yet, whenever a Viking gets arrested, the laundry list of arrests of other players is clumped in with it – mixing felonies and misdemeanors with the same wide brush. Jerome Felton thought his arrest was old news until Saturday.
Considering that the explanation of the events has, to date, been completely one-sided – Peterson has yet to take ownership of the situation, whether to dispute the "mountain of evidence" against him or to give a humble mea culpa – the conviction of Peterson in the public eye seems complete. Often times, the first impression is the correct impression. But there are two sides to every story and, in the case of people with celebrity status, the "innocent until proven guilty" standard doesn't apply in the court of public opinion.
The interesting aspect of the Peterson incident is that the only charge he was hit with was resisting arrest. He wasn't charged with assaulting an officer. Had he actually shoved a policeman to the point that he "stumbled," it would seem logical that charges of assaulting of an officer would also have been leveled. Therein lies the need to hear both sides of the story.
I come from a different perspective than most on this type of subject. I have been involved with "bouncer dust-ups" on the wrong side. Yet, three of my best friends are or were cops. I could accurately be accused of being "cop-friendly." Of the numbers saved in my phone, a half-dozen of them are cops. When they're "moonlighting," it's a night off for them. The odds of them getting shot as the result of a meth-addled domestic abuse call are out of the question. In those situations, they are truly "in charge." And they like it that way.
When a bouncer (cop or otherwise) is working "his turf," he can be aggressive. Very aggressive. As tenuous as life is in the NFL, the reality is that "hired muscle" at a nightclub can't lose if he gets in a dust-up with a drunken patron. Whether an off-duty policeman, a local college football player or just a big guy who casts an imposing shadow, "security" at a big-time nightclub is expected to quell all problems – exceptions not allowed.
In order to do so, off-duty cops (trust me when I tell you that they're never truly off-duty) aren't going to take any guff from anyone. They have the experience. They have the sobriety advantage.
If the Peterson matter actually goes to court – the smart money would say that only a hard-core prosecutor would push the case – it will be destroyed by competent legal representation on Peterson's behalf.
He is charged with a misdemeanor. Thousands of people every day get charged with misdemeanor crimes. It just doesn't lead the 10 o'clock news.
The word I get from those who know – on the "good side" of the thin blue line – tell me that, sans both sides of the story, the likelihood is rife that with competent legal representation, Peterson's attorneys will demolish the prosecution witnesses on C.E. (Cross Examination).
So, what does all this have to do with Randy Moss? Nothing. But, Moss-haters have read this to find a connection. That's fine. Here's the reward. In his long and illustrious NFL career, Moss did nothing that – from what I'm told by "real" cops – was seriously wrong. He was wrong to take a left when he shouldn't, but if a traffic cop dents your hood by going spread-eagle on it for no good reason (it wasn't a heroic grenade leap), you might speed up and then hit the brakes yourself. Yet, somehow, comparisons to Peterson and Moss have been cosmically linked by too many media sites. Why? Who knows? Perhaps it's because both of them messed up. But their mistakes weren't felonious. There's a difference.
Tell the hangin' judge to cool his heels. There are two (or more) sides to every story. It's time for the other side to be heard. Football has "The Catch," "The Drive." "The Hail Mary," "The Immaculate Reception" and numerous other lesser-known local folklore (ranging from "The Holy Roller" on down). History won't remember "The Shove." Or, on the advice of my attorney, "The Alleged Shove."
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John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.