Peterson’s fluid narrative keeps NFL fans coming back for more

By Rob Vogt Source:Global Times Published: 2017/9/13 23:33:40

There are many reasons sports are so popular - fans' allegiance to certain teams, the rivalries that grow out those allegiances, etc. One oft-overlooked element, however, is the fluid concept of sports "narrative" - as New Orleans Saints' running back Adrian Peterson learned on Monday night.

After being selected seventh overall in the 2007 NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings, Peterson rushed for 1,341 yards (1,226 meters) and won the Rookie of the Year award. He soon became one of the top players in the league, leading his team to the NFC Championship Game in 2009 and coming back from a torn ACL to win the league's MVP award in 2012.

The next chapter of Peterson's narrative, however, was far more dark. In 2014, he was indicted on child abuse charges, accused of punishing his 4-year-old son by hitting him repeatedly with a tree branch. He was subsequently suspended by the NFL for the remainder of the 2014 season, and despite a bounce-back season the next year, Peterson was released by the Vikings after the 2016 season.

Monday night was supposed to be Peterson's triumphant return to Minnesota, but somebody forgot to tell the Vikings. Not only did Peterson's old team prevail 29-19, but rookie running back Dalvin Cook broke Peterson's record for most yards in a Vikings debut on his last carry of the game. Peterson carried the ball only six times for a paltry 18 yards, and he was caught on camera exchanging heated words with Saints coach Sean Payton.

Payton himself is  no stranger to the fickle nature of sports narratives. His Saints' victory in Super Bowl XLIV restored hope and faith to a city ravaged by Hurricane Katrina, painting Payton as a hot assistant who made it big. One season-long suspension (2012) and three consecutive losing seasons (2014-16) later, Payton's job may be in jeopardy. What's the next plot twist for these two narratives? It's safe to say that Saints fans will be tuning in next week to find out.

The author is a Chicago-based freelance writer. robvogtwriting@gmail.com


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