Welcome to Rant Sports, the website on which you are reading this is column. Fitting, the name of this site, since I have a rant ready right here and now.
First a question: Are the Minnesota Vikings crazy?
Okay, two questions: Has this entire Adrian Peterson situation just entered reckless ground?
Here’s the deal: Peterson, the Vikings star running back, was placed on season-ending Injured Reserve last December with torn Anterior Cruciate and Medial Collateral ligaments, shortly after the team’s Week 16 victory over the Washington Redskins on December 24. We’ll call those ligaments ACL and MCL, just for fun. We could call the injury a blown out knee, too.
December 24 was less than 34 weeks ago. My dog just did the math and told me that it was roughly 235 days ago. I believe him.
Less. Than. A. Year. Ago.
When you blow out your knee, you need a year. At least. Ask New York Giants wide receiver Domenik Hixon about it. He tore his knee up two years ago in an early game and did it again during the team’s 2011 June mini-camp. He has gone on record that, in his opinion, a torn up knee really requires two years of rehab, though he acknowledged the unrealistic aspect of that for a professional football player.
After you talk to Domenik, ask Giants linebacker Clint Sintim (two knees in two years) or former Giants and Redskins linebacker Jonathan Goff (two knees in two years) about rushing back from this kind of knee injury. Then talk to Giants cornerback Terrell Thomas, who had the scare of his career a few weeks ago when he damaged-compromised-distressed the same right ACL that he snapped last summer in a preseason game against the Chicago Bears. That injury was the second to the same knee as T2 had already torn the right ACL while at USC in 2005.
Peterson, more affectionately called A.P. by his most ardent fans and half the media, is back on the practice field as of today, less than eight months after that blown out knee. Doctors have cleared him to practice, people with some of the best credentials in the medical field, I’d bet. The team has cleared him to practice.
Head coach Leslie Frazier and his staff wants him back on the field, but there’s a catch: Anyone touches A.P. during practice and, in effect, they’re gone. Cut. Deleted from the roster, locker cleaned out.
Peterson is off limits, babe.
Smart, those Vikings, except for one thing: Peterson could tear that knee up again, turning his ligaments into pasta, by simply making a sharp cut, turning to catch a pass, bursting from the backfield, working out in the weight room or even just jogging. Hitting him, no matter how hard he runs, would be a legitimate threat, but it’s one of many he will face in camp.
Sure, he’s a world class athlete. Some might call him “super human.” And yet, there’s no way to know how his knee will respond. No matter how “ahead of schedule” Peterson is believed to be, eight months doesn’t feel like enough.
What worries me even more is that the Vikings are allowing Peterson to rush back to work — A.P. himself has been working at a frantic pace to rehabilitate — because they did nothing to prepare for life without him, leaving just former Stanford Cardinal bell-cow Toby Gerhart as the most able running back in the stable. Oh, they signed undrafted rookie free agent Derrick Coleman, who played at UCLA last season and is currently listed as the fourth running back on the depth chart.
Everyone’s in a rush to put A.P. back on the field, to take the pressure off second-year quarterback Christian Ponder and to battle the rest of the NFC North. Too bad that there doesn’t seem to be anyone rational enough, patient enough, up there in purple-and-gold who can’t or won’t tell them all to just stop. Breathe. Wait. Slow it down.
Let’s hope those who made the final decision to put him back on the field, let alone A.P. himself, are right about this and that everything turns out great and Peterson remains healthy, his teammates eventually able to hit him in practice again, and Minnesota has a successful season.
That would be the easy way. The sum of the best of all outcomes. The path of least resistance.
If things go badly? The ramifications of such a football disaster would shake the entire franchise.