What do you do if you're an NFL owner and a star player says he wants to play for you? Oh yeah, and it happens to be an NFL player who is on another team?
According to ESPN's "Outside the Lines," Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson told Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones on a June phone call that he could envision playing for the Cowboys when his Vikings tenure was up.
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That put Jones in a little pickle.
"Well, I understand, Adrian," Jones told Peterson on the call, per the ESPN personality profile on Jones. "I'd like that, too ... Well, I love your story. I love your daddy's story. I've always respected what you've been about. I've always been a fan of yours."
NFL tampering rules prohibit club officials from talking to other teams' players, so this raises all kinds of questions for Jones. But according to the report, Jones might have been ambushed a bit by this one. Jones reportedly was in his suite at AT&T Stadium when a friend handed him a phone.
On that phone initially was a Morgan Stanley money manager who had attended the final George Strait concert back on June 7. That man talked to Peterson and then put the phone in Jones' hand without saying who was on the other end.
That's how we got to Peterson saying what he did. It should be noted that Peterson — who is from Texas originally and played high-school football there — can say whatever he wants on the matter to anyone else; that's not considered tampering, per NFL rules. But Jones responding in a certain fashion certainly could be construed as such.
"Well, we'll see what we can do, if we can make that happen," Jones reportedly told Peterson. "Hmm hmm ... I'd like that, too ... Well, we're talking pig Latin here, but let's see if we can do that ... We're talking pig Latin here, but let's see what we can do about that. OK, Adrian, thanks."
So pig Latin is likely the wink-wink code for those pesky tampering rules that the NFL folks take quite seriously, and it's likely something the Vikings — who have Peterson under contract through the 2017 season — will want to investigate further.
Typically, teams are steamed when they hear reports of other teams messing with their guys. Right now, however, they don't appear too concerned with it.
#Vikings statement: "We are focused on the 2014 season, and ... Adrian is an integral part of the Vikings organization."— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) August 28, 2014
Let's unpack this one piece at a time, shall we?
First of all, Jerry Jones is just priceless. He's had a whale of an offseason, from jettisoning players such as DeMarcus Ware to passing on Johnny Manziel in the draft, unable to keep his mouth closed on the matter whenever he's asked about that call.
That's what Jones does: he talks and talks and talks, and it's rarely empty of substance. So it's still not stunning that Jones, who clearly knows the NFL tampering rules, would still skirt the line of legality when handed a phone with another team's player on it when an ESPN writer is in the room who is likely armed with inked-up pen, notebook and recording device.
What does Jones have planned for his next act of stunning brilliance? We don't know. But we do know that the league will have a say on this. The rules are clear; per the CBA, Jones must report such a violation when it occurs, even accidentally, as this appears to be.
They read: "... the contacted club must immediately report such contact to the owner or operating head of the club which holds the player's rights." Short of doing that, Jones could face "severe" penalties from the commissioner's office.
Peterson is in the midst of a seven-year contract worth a total of $100 million, with a salary this season of $11.75 million.
And we must hold him accountable, too. Peterson essentially reached out to Jones with this, even if the two were connected through other parties. But the running back came out Thursday and said he wants to retire a Viking.
In a statement, Peterson said the contact with Jones "was a casual conversation between NFL colleagues in which I never indicated I wanted to leave the Vikings. I have always said I understand the NFL is a business but that I would love to retire as a Viking."
In the ESPN feature on Jones, who drafted Zack Martin with the 16th pick this May, there also is a fascinating Manziel nugget (does that stun anyone?). Jones recalled his meeting with Manziel prior to the draft and how the bold-talking quarterback gave Jones quite the promise.
"If we had picked Manziel, he'd guarantee our relevance for 10 years," Jones said in May. "When we were on the clock, I said if we pick the other guy — any other guy — it would be a ticket to parity, more 8-8 seasons.
"The only way to break out is to gamble — take a chance with that first pick, if you wanna dramatically improve your team. That's why I wanted Manziel, but I was the only guy who wanted him. I listened to everybody ... And I'm ... not ... happy ... ."
If Jones spent the rest of his days on earth with a lavalier microphone pinned to his blue lapel, it would be the gift that keeps on giving. We'd rename the blog in his honor. That's our promise.
So Jones might not have promised Peterson anything the way Manziel promised Jones, but there's certainly more to this story, whether it's written in pig Latin or any other language.
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