Truth about Peterson arrest? Prefer to know why he's quoting Churchill

by | National Columnist

Peterson was arrested in Houston in an incident in which police say the Vikings RB resisted arrest. (AP)  
Peterson was arrested in Houston in an incident in which police say the Vikings RB resisted arrest. (AP)  

When Adrian Peterson finally comes out with that truth he tweeted about after his arrest in Houston, most people thought it would be his version of events that led to and followed the arrest.

But I think it's something else. I think he's going to tell us how he decided to quote Winston Churchill. I mean, that's the part I want to know.

Churchill, who is in many historians' estimation the greatest single figure of the 20th century (and no, that isn't the same as the noblest or most admirable), doesn't get brought up a lot these days. Being dead for 47 years will do that to a fellow's brand.

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So when Peterson celebrated his first few minutes of post-incarceration with this Churchillian gem, "A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on," I tried to figure out whether he was a history major, watches PBS a lot more than the average young'un, has a nerd posse or has an agent or publicist who watches the Military Channel between Kardashian developments.

I mean, he even signed the tweet, "WC," as though most folks in his demographic (below 30) would know who that was, let alone who said it. Hell, most older folks would come up with Wilt Chamberlain before Winston Churchill, and that's probably because of the part about putting on his pants.

This is an admirable development in many ways, because it (a) reminds us that Churchill really was quite the historical figure, (b) suggests Peterson did more in college than look for holes to run through, and (c) shows us there are more denominators out there than just the "lowest common."

And frankly, nothing gives a quote that extra bit of gravitas quite like a historical antecedent, as Darryl Sutter showed when he was asked at the end of March how he thought the playoff race was shaping up: "I'm not a philosopher or Nostradamus or nothing."

And that was before he won the Stanley Cup. Now he could start spraying wisdom from Sun Tzu all day long and nobody would bat an eyelid. Winning, after all, makes you smart. At least it makes you heard.

Peterson's tweet, though, combined a number of elements that typically do not lend themselves to the thoughts of the elders:

1. It's a tweet, which means by design it doesn't have a shelf life of more than a minute.

2. It was written by someone whose parents probably were not born while Churchill was alive.

3. It fit in 140 characters, which as we know is the extreme edge of the capacity of human thought.

4. It was applicable to the point he was trying to make.

In other words, whoever thought of it, whether it was him or someone near him, gets points for using it in the correct context.

This is a breakthrough moment for athletes and Twitter in that most athletes use the instrument either to praise a teammate, denigrate an opponent, announce he or she has just signed something that will produce money, or typed something in code that could mean anything at all.

This could lead to players who have just been cut or traded tapping out a quick, "Misfortune is never mournful to the soul that accepts it." -- Lydia Child.

Or, upon a brush with the law: "An unjust law is itself a species of violence. Arrest for its breach is more so." -- Mahatma Gandhi.

Or, during labor issues: "The only effective answer to organized greed is organized labor." -- Thomas Donahue.

Or, to trash-talk an opponent: "Eat me." -- Delta House float during Founder's Day Parade, Animal House.

There are, you see, opportunities for players to stretch their brains, and Adrian Peterson (or an adjunct thereof) has shown us the way. And Winston Churchill may have made himself a comeback; if someone who gets into a domestic scrape goes to him on Twitter with this one, we'll know he is back for good:

"When Lady Astor said, 'If I was your wife, I'd feed you poison,' Churchill said, 'If I was your husband, I'd take it.'"

As long as he or she remembers to #LOL #SMH #VORP #BABIP.

Ray Ratto is a columnist for Comcast Sports Bay Area (


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