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Adrian Peterson: ‘People say crazier things than just the n-word’ in NFL locker rooms


In an exclusive interview with FOX Sports, Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson made some comments in light of the Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin bullying controversy that continues to swirl around the Miami Dolphins that sheds some light on NFL culture, in particular what goes on behind closed doors in locker rooms.

Peterson said that when he first heard about the allegations involved in the Incognito-Martin bullying scandal, he said it “was funny to me.”

Further, Peterson states that the use of the n-word is a minor transgression when compared to the other kind of vile things that commonly are said in locker rooms that most people would deem to be offensive.

Peterson argues that the environment of the NFL workplace is far different than what most people experience and that this allows for a culture that would be considered incredibly inappropriate and unacceptable in more conventional places of employment.

“You really got to understand the environment you’re in,” Peterson said in a telephone interview. “You are in the locker room with 60 alpha males. Sixty guys who are in the NFL, they are men. So, when I actually heard about the situation (in Miami) it was funny to me because I really couldn’t believe it was taking place in the NFL locker room.”

Peterson says players employ use of the n-word from time to time but it doesn’t offend him personally.

“There’s a couple guys — I could use myself as an example — that might throw that out there that’s not African-American and I don’t take it personally because I know where it comes from,” Peterson said. “Not to say that the use of the word should be out there, but it is what it is. It’s men. There’s no other [place], not even basketball where there’s so many guys in one space. Things like that happen. People say crazier things than just the n-word.”

As far as the n-word is concerned, Peterson made it clear that away from the locker room and the trappings of such a heavily masculine environment, it is not part of vocabulary and that he doesn’t use the n-word in everyday conversation.

“I don’t really use it at all, but other people might be comfortable using it all the time. It just comes natural to them just when they’€™re having a conversation. I know people like that and I don’t take it personal.

“But that’s me and I’m entitled to my opinion.”

While Peterson’s comments are hardly surprising, what he has to say certainly sheds some light on how what allegedly occurred in the Dolphins locker room, given the environment in which it happened, is allowed to evolve, fester and grow into such a toxic situation. Boys will be boys, for sure, and the Incognito-Martin situation, as well as Peterson’s thoughts on the subjects, illustrates how seemingly benign locker room banter can go from harmless to harmful in an instant.