In NFL terms, the Adrian Peterson saga has officially become a “distraction.”
Distractions come in different forms. In NFL parlance, a distraction is a teammate who gets reporters to ask another player to weigh in on the situation that is the individual domain of someone else.
When a team loses a game, players are typically reluctant to talk to the local media – even those they have developed professional relationships with. They’re upset.
But when the topic of constant questioning is the one key player who wasn’t on the field, the response is typically terse.
New faces with pointed questions were looking to stir the pot. They descended upon players willing to speak – most often approached by a local beat writer, only to be swarmed upon by those looking to get a few seconds of sound that would resonate.
Most players simply said they had no comment. As a team leader, Chad Greenway faced the gauntlet of non-Vikings beat writers desperately feeding from player to player. It didn’t take long for the feeding frenzy to roll to Greenway’s locker.
Asked that, given the assumed non-football attention the Vikings are going to face in the coming days, how do veterans like Greenway keep the team focused?
Greenway, smelling a predator, responded with a smile, “I don’t know. Ban the media?”
Initially, when he was isolated from the herd, Greenway attempted to comment as a veteran leader with the intention that, if he made it clear he didn’t want to make any further statement on the matter, the tough questions could center on giving up 30 unanswered points to the Patriots.
“It’s just too new to comment really,” Greenway said. “It’s just a situation that is extremely tough and personal and something that probably shouldn’t be commented on.”
After joking about banning the media when an unfamiliar member of the jackal pack posed the question, Greenway gave an honest response.
“It’s a tough situation,” Greenway said. “It’s going to be up to the management and the organization to help us with that. But I think, as a team, the beat goes on. That’s just the way it is. This is what we do for a living and one of our co-workers is going through some stuff. We have to continue to do our job. This is the reality. This is a job and you have to put your best foot forward.”
Going for broke, the next question Greenway faced was a dice roll from a stranger.
“You’re a veteran player,” he said (I didn’t catch his name). “What is this week like for you? With everything. The Ray Rice stuff. Everybody’s talking about the NFL – The Shield.”
Greenway stopped him to say, “It’s certainly a trying time to be in the NFL. You try to always do things the right way. You don’t want public persona to be negative toward any player, team, organization, official. It’s tough. As players, there’s a great percentage of players doing some really great things in this community and communities across the league. I think we need to just continue to do those things.”
He added: “It’s been a hard week and a week I certainly think I’ll learn from.”
Winter Park is going to be a destination for multiple media members – sports and non-sports alike – over the coming days and possibly weeks or even months. Whenever there’s blood in the water, the same sharks move in. When it’s gone, they go away. It looks as if their descent on Eden Prairie is going to be for awhile, depending on what is done concerning Peterson.
What the result is going to be is that Vikings players will likely adopt an adversarial nature with the media in general. Greenway did his best to deflect inflammatory questions. He was diplomatic with people who could care less about diplomacy. Sound bites don’t have a conscience.
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.
Holler: Players left to answer for Peterson
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