TULSA — Former Oklahoma superstar and Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson said an openly homosexual teammate “really wouldn't bother me that much.”
Peterson — a little more than a week removed from expressing his opposition to gay marriage in a radio interview — did admit, though, that some aspects of it might make him uncomfortable.
“Simple things, as far as showers and things like that, you know, of course, anyone would be uncomfortable,” Peterson said Monday. “But you know, I'm a grown man. There's things that I can deal with. I'm comfortable in my skin.
“I'll still high-five them. Pat them on the butt when he's doing good, and go on about my business.”
Peterson visited Tulsa to accept a 2013 Henry P. Iba Citizen Athlete Award, presented annually to one male and one female athlete for excellence in their sport and off-the-field charitable action. Chicago Sky forward Swin Cash was this year's female recipient.
The former Sooner recovered from a devastating, late-2011 knee injury to rush for 2,097 yards — 13 yards shy of the NFL single-season record — last year while leading the Vikings to a 10-6 record and playoff berth. He earned the NFL's 2012 Most Valuable Player and Offensive Player of the Year awards.
But recently, Peterson made headlines for a very different reason.
During an interview on Sirius/XM NFL Radio, he was asked about his team's departure with punter Chris Kluwe, an outspoken gay-rights advocate.
Peterson responded that he considers Kluwe a good friend and was sad to see him go, but disagrees with his opinion on gay marriage.
“I'm not with it,” Peterson said in the radio interview. “I have relatives who are gay. I'm not biased towards them. I still treat them the same. I love 'em. But again, I'm not with that. That's not something I believe in. But to each his own.”
Peterson's expressed opposition to gay marriage comes at a time when public opinion on the issue has drastically shifted in the other direction.
In late April, veteran NBA center Jason Collins penned a first-person Sports Illustrated article to announce his homosexuality. The response was largely positive and accepting from his NBA colleagues, including superstars such as Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant.
“If the guy's happy, whatever he does, that's cool with me,” Durant said the day of Collins' announcement. “Jason Collins, playing against him, seems like a great guy. ... Nobody has any right to judge. He's his own man, makes his own decisions.”
Peterson's original comments also happened to come on the same day the Los Angeles Galaxy's Robbie Rogers became the first openly gay athlete to play in one of the United States' five major pro sports leagues.
Peterson said he never felt pressure to apologize because his sentiment wasn't hateful or disrespectful, and that he was surprised by some of the harshly negative public response.
“Like I said when I made the statement, ‘To each his own,'” Peterson said. “We have homosexuals who choose to live their life the way they do. You know what? To me, that's fine. You can do that. If you want people to respect that, then just respect my view.
“I'm not persecuting anyone or pointing a finger ... I got asked a question and I voiced my personal opinion, which, as a citizen, I'm free to do that. But, of course, when you've got the platform that I've got, you're gonna get a lot of different reactions and comments from it. I'm able to weather that and just deal with it.”