It’s a grimmer story than most: torn ACL and MCL. Time table to come back: a year. First, surgery, then rehab, then a miraculous season in which he comes nine yards short of breaking the single-season rushing record. The team makes the playoffs but gets blown out by the Packers in the Wild Card round. One hell of a year, right?
Well, what haven’t we seen? Adrian Peterson has a high public perception profile, meaning that he is well-liked and generally perceived as a classy guy. To question his achievement seems dirty and unfair, but there is a part of us that should. People do not recover like that, barring either (a) a work ethic that is nearly impossible to fathom, let alone sustain for several months, or (b) a little help from banned substances along the way, or so it seems when you really put your mind to it and think about other people who have sustained similar injuries. I sometimes wonder if it’s best, when questioning if a player has used PEDs, to remove the player from the equation and look at the story without him, or her.
Adrian Peterson’s story, if he were unlikable, unapproachable, and generally viewed as having a bad attitude, would have been questioned left and right; reporters asking “would the record be legitimate?” If you disagree, I give you Barry Bonds, who has never tested positive for PEDs, and was acquitted on chargers of perjury when he denied using under oath; he was unlikable, unapproachable, and viewed as having a bad attitude, and he was dogged left and right over his physique and his records. His attitude fueled the media. Remove the man: do you still question the legitimacy of his records? There’s suspicions, but nothing close to what has followed Bonds over the years.
IN the cases of Ray Lewis and Peterson, though, they are viewed as great guys by the media, and by coincidence, the media never challenges them. They hold them them up as incredible stories, as role models, as the best we can be; the problem is that I question how much help they got getting back to the game. Derrick Rose suffered a nasty ACL injury, and he’s still recouping; he’s not close to coming back; Derek Jeter too.
You can argue that the worst thing for Lewis to have done this season was come back off of the injured-reserve list; if he hadn’t, the story of him allegedly using PEDs to come back would have bounced off of him, with the general consensus being “he must have been desperate to come back, but it wasn’t to be.” Parts of it would have stuck, but the rest would have bounced off, and it would have been forgotten when he entered Canton.
The whole “presumption of innocence” argument, something that is an institutional part of the American legal system, falls by the wayside in the court of public opinion. The slightest suspicion has stain someone, although to be fair, many of the people who have been suspected have been implicated more seriously down the road. I suppose what I am saying is that I chose to hold my breath more now than I might have ten years ago; taking every “miracle” with a dash of salt, and moving forward.
The recent revelations out of the Florida clinics only confirms that cheating is advancing, not being completely drummed out of American sports has MLB would have you believe. However, we can hope that eventually the major American sports grasp the true scale of the problem, and address it.