You can make plenty of jokes about Adrian Peterson missing the team bus on Sunday. My favorite (and not just because it's mine) is that what's really impressive about Peterson leading the league in rushing yards isn't that he is doing it less than a year after tearing two knee ligaments.
It's that the total doesn't include the 200 yards spent chasing the bus in Chicago.
We can make light of it, but head coach Leslie Frazier won't join us. He believes it's a pretty big deal and that, as a team leader, Peterson more than most can't do things like that.
You know what? He's absolutely right.
Not to beat on Peterson—because let's face it he's pretty much the entire offense right now and has been amazing all year long—but he knows better.
He knows other players look up to him and take his lead. Now, there is more than likely a completely legitimate and understandable reason for missing the bus.
That reason is irrelevant.
Because this is a young team which at times plays undisciplined and streaky football. They need to focus, they need to maintain an even keel and they need leaders who can show them how it's done.
Peterson is supposed to be that guy. He's supposed to be a leader.
Leaders don't show up late for meetings, don't half-ass it in the weight room and don't blow off film sessions.
They don't miss the team bus.
Peterson is—and should be—held to a higher standard because he is supposed to be showing these guys how it's done.
It's not fair, especially when you consider how much of a professional Peterson is. He's the epitome of hard work and focus.
Which, in many ways, makes this gaffe worse because if he can lose focus, why not everyone else?
Listen, it's not so much about Peterson as it is about the team. As a team, they don't finish games well, don't play consistently and are prone to some horrid mental errors.
Nobody is kicking anyone in the crotch, but a lack of discipline can be visible in many different ways.
Peterson missing the bus makes news because it's a shock. It's also news because it's endemic of the youth and—for want of a better word—immaturity of the team.
It's inexcusable for anyone—including Peterson—to miss the bus just before one of the biggest games of the team's year.
If that seems unfair, then so be it. Peterson needs to lead by example and his example that morning was less than stellar.
Did it destroy their chances against the Bears? No, it didn't. Missed tackles, turnovers and overall poor football did that.
It's all one in the same, though, at the end of the day. Sloppy is as sloppy does.
Sunday was the wrong day to be sloppy.
Everyone screws up. Mistakes are made, decisions are regretted four seconds after they are acted upon.
This isn't the end of the world.
That doesn't make it any less serious though.
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