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Patrick Peterson’s AZ Legacy From This Fan’s Perspective

Syndication: Phoenix Rob Schumacher/azcentral sports

Note: I wasn’t intending to write any more about Patrick Peterson. But, his recent claim that the Cardinals should retire his jersey changed all of that.

From Patrick Peterson’s perspective, he believes that not only should he be a slam dunk inductee into the Cardinals Ring of Honor, he contends that the Cardinals should retire his number.

As for Peterson’s induction into the Cardinals’ Ring of Honor, that will be a slam dunk. Peterson’s NFL accolades are dazzling:

  • 3 time 1st Team All Pro: 2011, 2013, 2015
  • 8 time Pro Bowler
  • NFL’s 2010s All Decade Team

During his prime, Patrick Peterson was one of the elite cover CBs in the NFL.

No one can ever deny him that.

During his 10 year tenure with the Cardinals, Peterson was also an engaging, upbeat personality who brightened the clubhouse with his infectious smile and swag.

Off the field, Peterson deserves to be lauded for his philanthropy. His charity, Patrick Peterson’s Foundation for Success provides hope, valuable resources and opportunities for under-privileged inner city youths.

As they say, Patrick Peterson, through his charitable causes, has been “paying it forward”.

As far as making a case for the Cardinals to retire his number, one would think that in order for a player to receive that ultimate honor, he would have to be the very best player at his position for a significant period of time, like Larry Wilson was at free safety in the 1960s.

The question is, was Patrick Peterson ever the very best player at his position in the NFL?

Patrick Peterson zealots are quick to say yes, that for a few years, no one was better in covering the opponents’ #1 WR than Patrick Peterson. On the other hand, fans of Richard Sherman, Darrell Revis and Chris Harris Jr. (other members of the NFL’s 2010s All Decade Team) would argue that Peterson is/was not the complete CB that they are/were.

What do the PFF numbers reveal?

Over the first ten years of their careers, here are their average overall CB grades:

Darrell Revis: 81.6

Chris Harris, Jr.: 80.6

Richard Sherman: 80.1

Patrick Peterson: 70.4

Yearly grades in the elite range of 90.0+: Revis (3), Harris (3), Sherman (1), Peterson (0).

Highest grade in a season: Revis: 93.9; Sherman: 92.6; Harris: 91.9; Peterson: 82.5

Patrick Peterson will always argue that his grades are lower because he, more than Revis, Harris or Sherman, was more frequently assigned to cover the opponents’ #1 WR. This may be true (although Darrell Revis may not agree), but Peterson does not take into account other aspects of strong CB play, such as proficiency in run support, screen busting and effectiveness in zone coverage.

Patrick Peterson once made the comment that given the choice of winning a Super Bowl or being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, he would opt for the yellow jacket over the ring.

In Patrick Peterson’s tenure with the Arizona Cardinals, the team only made the playoffs twice in 10 years and won only one playoff game (1-2). By team sport standards, one playoff win in ten years is a major disappointment.

By contrast, Darrell Revis, Chris Harris Jr. and Richard Sherman all were a part of Super Bowl winning teams.

The other factor that separates Peterson from Revis, Harris and Sherman is that Peterson was suspended for a PED violation and a coverup.

In 2012, Richard Sherman allegedly tested positive for using Aderall and was told he would have to serve a 4 game suspension, but he contended, via his appeal to the NFL, that his urine sample collection protocols were breached —- and upon further investigations, in a rare reversal, the NFL agreed with Sherman and waived his suspension.

The fact that Patrick Peterson believes his tenure in Arizona is worthy of the Cardinals retiring his jersey is yet another troubling manifestation of his denial of how (over the last three years) he wore out his welcome in the organization.

Rather than do everything he could to show remorse and contrition for his PED and coverup violations, Peterson did just the opposite. Not only did he call the organization “snakes in the grass” for not compensating him financially during his 6 week hiatus from the team, he skipped OTAs and then, perhaps, worst of all, he returned for Week 7 in golf shape and blamed his poor play (while topping out at three quarter speed) on not quite understanding the nuances of Vance Joseph’s defense.

Even after that, with a chance to redeem himself in his all-important contract year this past season, he suffered through his worst season at CB since his rookie year, leading the NFL and his penalty-plagued team with 14 penalties. His 12.39 % of the team’s penalties was also the highest percentage for any player in the NFL.

By all accounts, this was a sad and disappointing end to what was such a promising tenure in Arizona.

Yet, one could make a very strong case that Patrick Peterson brought all of his woes upon himself by creating double standards.

One of the major reasons why the Cardinals elected Patrick Peterson with the #5 pick in the 2011 NFL Draft was the elite talent he would bring to the kickoff and punt return games —- which is precisely what he did as a rookie, in the most electrifying fashion, to the tune of 4 thrilling TDs, including a dramatic walk-off TD that had the Red Sea rocking and rolling.

But by year two, Patrick Peterson, then the most gifted return man on the planet, had left the building.

Not only that, it started to become very clear that on top of checking out as a return man, he felt he should be allowed to play in a red QB practice vest or, better yet, a tuxedo with a white bow tie and red cumber bun. Thus, the Patrick Peterson, who at LSU was a sudden disrupter and tackling force on the perimeter versus runs and screens, was no longer to be found at University of Phoenix stadium.

Aeneas Williams was a 3 time 1st Team All Pro, an 8 time Pro Bowl player and a member of the 1990s All Decade Team. In this 59 year Cardinals’ fan’s opinion, Aeneas Williams belongs in the Cardinals’ Mount Rushmore of defensive backs with FS Larry Wilson, SS Adrian Wilson and CB Roger Wehrli. Did Aeneas Williams ever claim that the Cardinals should retire his number? Did Adrian Wilson?

Just as Patrick Peterson played on his own terms in Arizona, he now wants to leave on his own terms —- by informing the Cardinals that he was so stellar that he deserves to have his number retired.

Is this the height of obtuse vanity, or what?

Have we ever heard Larry Fitzgerald (pictured above with Peterson) mention a single peep about the Cardinals retiring his jersey?

First 10 years in NFL:

Larry Fitzgerald: 82.4 (with 2 seasons over 90.0 and another at 89.8)

Patrick Peterson: 70.4

It would appear that Larry Fitzgerald and Patrick Peterson are from entirely different universes.

Commentary:

In truth, I was hoping that Patrick Peterson would go quietly. I am impressed that he chose to sign with the Vikings and play for defensive guru Mike Zimmer. I sincerely hope that Pat P. experiences a renaissance in Minnesota. I think the change of scenery at this point for Pat P. is just what he needs, although it could have been more ideal for him and the Cardinals if it happened at the trading deadline in 2018 or 2019.

When I saw in 2013 that Bruce Arians was further enabling Pat P. to play in his tuxedo, both as a CB and punt returner, I made the comment that “unless and until this double standard is eliminated, the Cardinals will never win a championship with Peterson.” I wrote this because I believe that double standards tear away at the fabric of a football team, especially when once considers that football, as a team sport, is the ultimate game of teamwork and individual sacrifices.

As a long-time fan, I’ve seen a lot of players come and go. Few players I have seen in Cardinals’ red were as physically gifted as Patrick Peterson. But, as a long-time fan, I have also seen my fair share of players who lie straight to your face. And, for me, this fabrication takes the cake:

As we well know, just a couple of weeks later Peterson was busted for PED and coverup violations, was calling the Cardinals’ FO “snakes in the grass” for not financing his suspension and was skipping Kliff Kingsbury’s and Vance Joseph’s first year of OTAs.

Therefore, even though I acknowledge that Patrick Peterson by virtue of his individual accolades has earned his place in the Cardinals’ Ring of Honor, it’s very difficult to associate Peterson with the word “honor.”

Look, we all make mistakes —- but isn’t honor about how once bounces back from mistakes? Isn’t it the resolve a person shows for wanting to atone for those mistakes so that he and everyone around him are all the better off afterward?

Had Peterson been contrite and had he done everything he could to atone for his suspension, then I would feel a whole different sense of respect for him.

But, it’s hard now to refute the notion that, after asking to be traded when he was a team captain in 2018, Patrick Peterson has had one foot out of the door ever since. Therefore, his maudlin apology to Cardinals’ fans was a bogus and meaningless gesture to draw attention to himself.

That is why when I think of Patrick Peterson I think of him doing his own thing, heavily engaged in his own self-promotions and how super calculated he was in every aspect of that. It mystifies me to know that in 10 years of watching him play, I rarely ever saw him leave his man to chase down a runner at full 4.3 speed. I rarely ever saw him step up and make a big tackle in a key situation or really any situation. Thus, I never truly got the sense that his priorities were ever team oriented. I wish I had. I wish so many things could have been different.