NORMAN — Monday night at the Henry P. Iba Awards ceremony in Tulsa, I asked Adrian Peterson about the reaction to his recent comments on gay marriage.
He was very open about his beliefs, and didn’t seem at all put off by the questions.
Still, much of the reaction to my story — through emails and online comments — has centered around the idea that Peterson’s opinion on the subject is irrelevant, and that I only asked the question to stir the pot and/or somehow pressure him into apologizing for what he said.
I asked Peterson about it because, like it or not, his opinion absolutely does matter. Recent events and virtually every poll on the subject indicates that society has become far more accepting of gays and lesbians; so much so, in fact, that NBA veteran Jason Collins was comfortable enough to come out of the closet.
There is zero doubt that an active NFL player will, sooner or later, follow Collins’ lead and when that happens, the way that person is received in the locker room will matter.
Peterson’s opinion — which he freely stated in the radio interview — is different than those of many other superstar professional athletes, which makes it interesting and newsworthy.
He hadn’t spoken about it since his radio interview quotes went viral, and I felt like he deserved the opportunity to expand on his thoughts if he so desired.
Here’s the transcript of the three questions I asked Adrian Peterson on the subject, and his full responses. As you can see, I wasn’t deliberately seeking to create controversy or express any of my personal views.
Q: Were you surprised by the reaction to what you said about gay marriage in that radio interview?
A: “I was. I was surprised because, like I said when I made the statement, to each his own. 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 am a firm believer in Jesus Christ. That’s just something that I don’t believe in. I didn’t feel like I needed to apologize because I didn’t feel like I offended anyone in any type of way. I stand firm in my belief, and I stand firm in what I believe in.
“To each his own. I’m not persecuting anyone or pointing a finger or saying, ‘You shouldn’t do this or you shouldn’t do that;’ I got asked a question, 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.
Was there pressure to apologize?
“Oh no sir. No pressure at all. I know why I’m in the position I’m in. I know God has gotten me through so many different situations in my life and blessed me. He is the creator. So, I don’t have to apologize for nothing. I’m not forcing anyone to believe in my same belief or agree with me. This is my life, and this is my view.”
With Jason Collins in the NBA … it seems like, with the way society is progressing, there probably will be an out, gay NFL player at some point in the future. Would you be comfortable having a teammate that’s gay?
“Would I be comfortable? You know, to be honest with you, it would be what it is. Simple things, as far as showers and things like that, you know, of course, anyone would be uncomfortable. But you know, I’m a grown man. There’s things that I can deal with. I’m comfortable in my skin. It really wouldn’t bother me that much.
“I’ll still high-five them. Pat them on the butt when he’s doing good, and go on about my business.”
If Peterson didn’t want to talk about it, he could’ve declined to discuss it and that would have been just fine. But he chose to answer the questions, and in doing so, provided deep, well-considered and interesting comments.
Other athletes will undoubtedly be asked similar questions over the next several years and that’s a good thing. The gay-rights issue isn’t going away, and the only path to mutual understanding is open, honest and respectful discussion.
The fact that the NFL’s Most Valuable Player is willing to respectfully express his views does nothing but advance the conversation in a positive way.