DAN BICKLEY

Cardinals should not give up on suspended Patrick Peterson

May 16, 2019, 5:07 PM | Updated: May 17, 2019, 7:49 am

(AP Photo/Ralph Freso)...

(AP Photo/Ralph Freso)

(AP Photo/Ralph Freso)

We cheer for athletes. We believe in people. I’m not bailing on Patrick Peterson.

And you?

At the moment, the Cardinals and their star cornerback are in a rough patch of marriage. The arguments are more frequent. Each must be wondering if the other side is worth the hassle.

Peterson has been suspended by the NFL for six games. The harsh penalty reflects a secondary circumstance, such as masking a banned substance, making Peterson’s bad decision even worse.

The suspension comes after a 2018 season when Peterson demanded a trade on the watch of a rookie head coach, undermining Steve Wilks beyond repair.

Put these events together, and Peterson is running low on blind faith in the Valley. His actions have once again distracted a team from its newborn mission. There are questions of his captaincy and if he’s truly fit to wear the vaunted letter. Or whether the Cardinals should trade him now or wait until his value is re-established.

Nonsense.

Patrick Peterson is a great player. He cared enough about Arizona fans to deliver a mea culpa on the 16th hole of the Waste Management Phoenix Open. And to fairly evaluate the current situation, you must start by eliminating the previous skirmish from all conversation.

After all, he apologized for that. We accepted. And in fairness to Peterson, things were really that hopeless under the leadership of Wilks, a man so narrow and bland that he would’ve fined Kyler Murray for wearing gym shoes with a pink suit, the outfit he debuted at the NFL draft.

So that limits the story to Peterson, PEDs and what the Cardinals are going to do about their disgruntled cornerback. And let’s start here:

The suspension created a terribly embarrassing situation for Peterson on Thursday, as his foundation’s golf tournament and fund-raising event in the Valley began the same day his penalty was disclosed by ESPN’s Adam Schefter and confirmed by the team hours later. It’s hard to rally the community around an athlete who was sacked with a six-game, league-mandated suspension.

Peterson knew a suspension was coming, according to a source. His explanation is tied to his relationship with Type 2 diabetes, a condition that made him feel extremely sluggish and slow in 2015. The condition made headlines. You can look it up.

Peterson allegedly began feeling the same way in recent months. He unknowingly took supplements that included a banned substance, realizing his error after it was too late. He asked the team for a big favor. And at the very least, he asked the Cardinals to sit on the news until after his fundraising event, thereby safeguarding his charitable interests.

Peterson’s current level of unhappiness with the team was surely fueled by the harmful timing of his suspension, with great suspicion of where the leak occurred.

Clearly, the Cardinals have no motive to throw fuel on a growing fire, and would never drop a dime on Peterson in this manner. Not if they desire a long-term relationship with their star defender. But Peterson already felt betrayed by the organization and any paranoia must be expected.

According to 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s John Gambadoro, Peterson grew angry at the Cardinals when they rejected his request for a restructured contract prior to the impending suspension, thereby protecting him from NFL-sanctioned financial losses that will exceed $4.5 million with missed bonus incentives.

In effect, they didn’t let Peterson game the system. And in the NFL, where most contracts aren’t guaranteed and physical damage is profoundly inevitable, the quickest way to lose a player’s heart is to get inside his wallet.

Peterson is deeply offended by the Cardinals’ hardline stance, for not fighting for his rights or mitigating his losses through loopholes. But this doesn’t have to be the end.

Von Miller served a six-game suspension and is still beloved in Denver. Julian Edelman is still revered in New England despite his suspension for performance-enhancing drugs. This isn’t like Barry Bonds destroying baseball’s record book. PEDs aren’t a death sentence in football, and this doesn’t have to spell divorce for Peterson and the Cardinals.

After all, you can’t replace Peterson on the football field. You can’t take away Larry Fitzgerald’s best golfing buddy. And you don’t give up on good people, especially when they do dumb things.

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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