Yo, Adrian (cont.)
Posted: Tuesday April 17, 2007 2:29PM; Updated: Tuesday April 17, 2007 2:29PM
Despite Quinn's notable polish and ease with the media, it was Peterson who ended up revealing much more of himself to me. He talked about his 2-year-old daughter, and how she's been keeping him up nights by shaking her bottle over him and dripping milk on his face -- payback, he says, for when he was a kid and his mother nicknamed him All Day for his endless energy. He insisted that he doesn't have any end-zone dances planned for his first NFL touchdown, though he joked about dropping a little pop-locking or maybe the Robot. He told me about his love of seafood and his distaste for rare steak (further evidenced when he reluctantly sent his back to the kitchen at lunch). He said that he'll miss the camaraderie of dorming with his college teammates, and that he won't mind too much if his new veteran teammates make him shave his head as part of his rookie hazing. He spoke of his closeness to both of his parents and his grandmother, and mentioned that after he spends some of his signing bonus to set them up he's planning to spoil himself with a Bentley and maybe a new house in whatever city he'll be living in.
One clear benefit of Peterson's relationship with his family is that he couldn't possibly be much more polite. Throughout the day he opened doors for people, and he even apologized for interrupting me to ask his agent a question. Unfortunately for everyone, Peterson's politeness included offering a handshake to everyone he met throughout the day, including the three Newsday kids. The NFL could certainly use a guy who has good manners. Heck, the NFL could use a guy who has a clean record.
Luckily for the league, Peterson is about as clean as they come. It's exactly that type of behavior that has helped him score endorsement deals with Sprint and Nike. And it isn't by accident, either. At the press conference, Peterson explained that the NFL's suspension of Adam "Pacman" Jones and Chris Henry earlier that same day sent a clear message to the guys who are about to join the league.
"I hate to miss one game," Peterson said. "In the NFL you can play 18-20 games. It's an eye-opener. A lot of guys, it's going to make a big difference in how they respond to different situations."
It's that reluctance to miss games -- and the competitive fire behind it -- that seems to define Peterson much more than his manners or his bone-crushing grip. He told me that his team's loss to Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl hurts him "still to today." He told me that Ray Lewis is the one NFL player he most looks forward to facing -- not out of disrespect, but rather because he relishes the challenge.
"I always thought he was one of the best linebackers out there. I just love the intensity he plays with, the poise. To go up against him, I look forward to that," Peterson explained. "If Ray Lewis is in there, and he hits you, you're a grown man. To have the opportunity to play on that level, I would say that's probably what I'm most looking forward to."
He knows that his collarbone injury has led to speculation that he might slip in the draft, but he wants teams to know that he's a warrior. "You're going to get a guy that you can count on, a guy that's going to go out there every Sunday, or Monday, or whatever, and give it his all," he promised. "Truth is, I love the game, and just the passion that I have for the game, I'm going to go out there and get it on."
In other words, whichever team drafts him is going to be getting a whole lot more than a firm handshake.
Adam Hofstetter's column appears every week on SI.com. Read Part II of this story in this space tomorrow to find out his thoughts on Brady Quinn.