DAN BICKLEY

Patrick Peterson’s apology confirms he cares as much as we do

Jan 31, 2019, 6:45 PM | Updated: 6:46 pm
(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)...
(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Divorce rates have soared in American sports. Our favorite athletes are more roommates than life partners.

Patrick Peterson changed that trend, reshaping his story and ours.

He’s proof that mea culpa still matters. When done properly, with conviction, from the heart.

Or in his words:

“I just want to apologize to everybody for asking for that trade in the middle of the season. I’m here to stay, baby!”

That’s when Peterson dropped the microphone on the tee box at the 16th hole of the Waste Management Phoenix Open Pro-Am. After offering up one of the best apologies in Valley sports history.

Here’s why:

Because he didn’t have to.

The Cardinals star wasn’t forced into remorse. He wasn’t backed into a corner by ownership, sponsors or public opinion. He didn’t have to revisit his shocking trade request that sabotaged Steve Wilks’ debut as NFL head coach.

By the end of the 2018 season, we all felt his pain. Many fans vowed to turn in their season tickets, following Peterson out the door if there wasn’t a change in leadership. In some ways, his dissent was validated, even appreciated.

Without it, maybe the team doesn’t undertake the expensive housecleaning of a one-and-done coaching staff.

Still, Peterson wasn’t a martyr and not without fault in the matter. A team captain needs to consider the group, and not just himself. Even if Peterson was falsely promised that Wilks would take him to the next level. Even if Peterson was the guy who had to tell Deone Bucannon why the head coach didn’t think he could play.

In the end, Peterson was the first to pull back the curtain on a head coach in over his head. His frustration eventually became relatable, for all of us.

That’s why Peterson’s apology matters. He wasn’t looking to expunge his record or officially close the book on his first misstep as a professional athlete. He wanted more than that.

While much of the country is in a deep freeze, he spent Wednesday afternoon strolling a golf course in sublime weather. He felt the rebellious rock star energy that flows through the WMPO grounds. He stuck his tee shot, heard the roar of the adoring crowd, just like he once did at State Farm Stadium, and he realized how much he loves this place. And us.

That makes this a victory for all of us, a hearty communal toast amongst those masochistic enough to pledge allegiance to Valley sports.

Devin Booker feels the same way about Phoenix. At least before he entered the 2018-19 season without a point guard. At his peak, Archie Bradley similarly craved a deeper emotional kinship with his audience. They are rare exceptions.

We all love this place, but not many of us grew up in Arizona, and most of us take more than we give. But we’re not alone in our transience, a trend that is everywhere in sports.

The NBA is a breeding ground for athletes devoted to their narcissism and relocation. Anthony Davis’ trade request has jilted New Orleans so much that the Pelicans scrubbed their star from the team’s official video introduction. The backup quarterback at Alabama just transferred to Oklahoma. The Diamondbacks said goodbye to Paul Goldschmidt while the Mavericks somehow traded for Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingas in the span of eight months.

That’s why Peterson was a litmus test of sorts. He’s an elite cornerback and a cornerstone of the Cardinals. He’s been to the Pro Bowl in eight consecutive seasons and sets a lofty standard inside the locker room. Best of all, his smile has returned, while his apology confirms that he cares as much as we do. He’s part of our history and our future.

The way it should be with great players in great sports towns.

Reach Bickley at dbickley@bonneville.com. Listen to Bickley & Marotta weekdays from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.

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