Wounded Knee

A Florida surgeon has been making the media rounds this week claiming that the Vikings, if they make good on the claim that Adrian Peterson can return to action in a week or two, are doing so for their self-interest, not the betterment of A.P. or the franchise. He makes some explosive charges and points the finger at head coach Brad Childress.

There has been a lot of talk around the league as to the severity of Adrian Peterson's knee injury and whose best interest is being served by rushing him back.

Media members from VU and other local Twin Cities media outlets have become quasi-medicos as diagrams and models of knees have been shown to isolate the lateral collateral ligament. While a 10-minute refresher course isn't going to get the job done, there have been conflicting opinions as to how severe the injury is and who is actually going to benefit if A.P. misses just one or two games.

Dr. Johnny Benjamin, an orthopedic specialist from Vero Beach, Fla., has been making the rounds with the area media, saying that the Vikings should shut Peterson down for the rest of the season – at least if they intend to look out for what is best for A.P. and not their own self-interest.

Benjamin, who is the chief of orthopedics at Indian River Medical Center, has been the subject of newspaper and radio interviews this week and has been extremely critical of Brad Childress and the Vikings for what he sees as a self-serving reason for getting A.P. back on the field too soon. Benjamin has worked with such star athletes as Daunte Culpepper and Alan Iverson and serves as team orthopedist for the Dodgers during spring training and believes that the Vikings' aggressive timetable for A.P.'s return is simply wrong.

The day after the injury, the Vikings announced that Peterson's injury wasn't season-ending and that they would only commit to him missing this week's game against the Raiders. However, Benjamin, who said in a radio interview Friday that he is "getting killed on blogs in Minnesota for simply telling the truth," said the best option for the long-term health of Peterson is to shut him down for the season.

"Adrian Peterson is an amazing talent, which makes his LCL tear even more of a concern," Benjamin said. "He is an explosive runner who makes strong and powerful cuts. The LCL is one of the ligaments that allows those cuts to happen. If he was an offensive lineman, he could probably continue playing, because they work in a short area and are moving in a straight-line area. Adrian doesn't do that. They can say he might be back in two weeks, but this is a six-week injury. Period."

Actually, the Vikings did say the day after Peterson's injury that an offensive lineman might be able to play with a brace the next week. It should also be noted that Benjamin's public relations firm sent out a notice to media seeking interviews.

Benjamin went on to say that the Vikings fitting Peterson with a specialized brace is also a fallacy, claiming that such devices aren't effective.

"There isn't a brace specifically designed to deal with LCL tears," Benjamin said. "A brace can provide basic stability, but it isn't a substitute for letting the healing process take its course. If you see most running backs that do wear a brace, most of them simply throw it away during games because they find it hinders their running style. To say a brace will protect Adrian's knee is just wrong."

Benjamin also said that the corroboration of renowned surgeon Dr. James Andrews, which has been used as confirmation that Peterson can return sooner than later from his injury, is being spun by the Vikings.

"Dr. Andrews is a colleague and I have the utmost respect for him and his medical opinion," Benjamin said. "But if you read what he actually wrote in his memorandum to the Vikings, he said that he agreed that the knee doesn't require surgery, but also said a weekly MRI should be done each Monday to monitor the healing process. At no time does he say that Adrian should return to action in one week, two weeks or three weeks. The Vikings have twisted his words to fit what they believe should happen."

Benjamin wasn't shy about pointing the finger at Childress, saying that fears that he might be fired if the Vikings finish 4-12 or 5-11 this season, and in Benjamin's opinion, that is taking precedence to Peterson's health.

"Adrian is a competitor and he wants to play," Benjamin said. "But he needs someone to look out for his best interests in the long term. NFL contracts aren't guaranteed and it doesn't seem that anyone is advising him about the long-term problems that could result from coming back too soon and doing more damage to the knee. It seems that more concern is being paid to what happens if the Vikings don't win any games while Peterson is out. A head coach looking to save his job shouldn't take priority to the long-term health of a player or the franchise."

It should be noted that the Vikings have never given a timeline as to when Peterson will return, just saying they believe there is no question he can play again this season. But the clear speculation has been that he hasn't been ruled out for the Giants game and could be "probable" to play two weeks from now against the Lions. But, as Benjamin has stressed, whether the Vikings are playing games about not announcing the health of A.P., much like they have been cagey about reporting on their quarterbacks, if A.P. plays against the Giants or Lions, they are tempting fate.

"The bottom line is that this is a six-week injury," Benjamin said. "With seven weeks to go and the Vikings going nowhere, it doesn't make sense not to shut him down for the season. If they don't, they're not looking out for the best interests of Adrian or the franchise."

One final important note on Benjamin's criticisms of the Vikings: Dr. Andrews has reviewed the MRI and Benjamin hasn't.

* The Brett Favre Protective Police are at it again. Kenechi Udeze was fined $7,500 for a hit to the head on Favre in last week's game – yet another sign that the NFL's fine party fund is getting out of hand. For those who saw the play, Favre scrambled out of the pocket, which, last time we checked, makes him a runner, not a passer. Trying to gain as many yards as 38-year-old legs will allow, Favre did an awkward half-slide and Udeze hit him in the head with a knee. Not his helmet or shoulder pads, his knee.
* The league actually recouped $15,000 in the Vikings-Packers game, since Packers DT Corey Williams was fined $7,500 for throwing Brooks Bollinger to the ground – a play that got him flagged for roughing the passer.
* For the record, Al Harris wasn't fined for his hit on Peterson which, while devastating to A.P. and the Vikings, wasn't deemed a cheap shot.
* The Vikings' injury report has been finalized. Peterson is listed as out, Sidney Rice (hamstring) and Eric Frampton (groin) are both listed as questionable and Antoine Winfield (hamstring), Ryan Cook (shoulder) and Brian Robison (elbow) are all listed as probable.
* For the Raiders, QB Josh McCown (quadriceps) and center Jake Grove (knee) are doubtful, CB Nnamdi Asomugha (knee), LB Sam Williams (shoulder), WR Jerry Porter (knee), CB Fabian Washington (calf) and LB Isaiah Ekejiuva (ankle) are all listed as questionable and safety Hiram Eugene (calf) is listed as probable.
* The Vikings have 50 carries of 10 yards or more – tops in the league, nearly two times the average around the league and 12 more than the second-place Panthers.
* Erasmus James re-joined the team Friday after tending to some personal business that kept him from practice Thursday.

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