Patrick Peterson has come clean.
The longtime Arizona Cardinal, once the apex cornerback in the NFL, saw his reputation take a hit in 2019 after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs (PED) and landing himself with a six-game suspension.
Peterson penned an emotional farewell to the Cardinals franchise and shared vulnerable details of the struggles he’s faced later in his career, which he hopes to reinvent with the Minnesota Vikings.
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‘There Were Some Nights Where I Cried Myself to Sleep’
In an essay published by the Players Tribune, Peterson bid Arizona a fitting goodbye typical to the types of stories published by the platform.
But midway through the piece, Peterson addressed the low-hanging character critics that often face athletes who test positive for PEDs.
Here’s what he wrote:
Sometimes it takes going through your lowest moments to realize how much you really mean to a place.
And how much that place means to you.
In 2019, I tested positive for PEDs.
I just knew I had no reason to cheat the game. I was still young, pretty prominent, no injuries, a good head on my shoulders. So it was just a weird, sad experience.
I’m usually a very laid-back, happy-go-lucky guy. I’m someone who likes to smile a lot. But during that time, my smile really faded.
There were some nights when I cried myself to sleep. I just wondered, Why me? It was like, I’d been taking this same thing for the last two seasons, so how all of a sudden is this happening? It put a big cloud over my head. But as a man, I just had to take my licks, put Band-Aids on my wounds and do my best to move forward. And that’s what I did. I hope it’s just another reminder to other players, especially young ones, that you have to be really careful with the things that you take, especially if you’re not a hundred percent of what’s all in it.
I guess that was all a part of the journey and God’s plan for me.
Before Peterson’s violation, he had been one of the league’s most consistent cornerbacks, making eight consecutive Pro Bowl appearances and earning three All-Pro nods. He hadn’t missed a single game in his career.
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A New Path in Minnesota
Peterson was exposed last season, ranking 90th out of 136 cornerbacks graded by Pro Football focus after committing the most penalties (12) out of any cornerback in the league. However, Peterson’s fit in the Cardinals scheme assumed he was still the same physical specimen he was out of college — not a 10-year veteran who’s approaching the age of 31.
He hopes coach Mike Zimmer can unlock the next stage of his 10-year career, which he hopes he can extend to 15 years.
“[Zimmer’s] reputation speaks for itself. The things he does with not only the defense but with defensive backs… Deion Sanders, Leon Hall, Terence Newman, Johnathon Joseph the list goes on and he’s able to further got those guys’ careers,” Peterson said in his first press conference as a Viking earlier this offseason. “Those guys played 13-14 plus years. Coach Zim has something that he’s given those guys to help repave their career for new heights.
“The coaching around here the atmosphere around here it was everything for me. It checked all the boxes,” Peterson added. “This team has nothing but a winning pedigree. And this is the organization I want to be around… I’m happy to be a part of it.”