Join Date: May 2004
Adrian Peterson offered money from agent
By Steve Wieberg, USA TODAY
NORMAN, Okla. — He had an agent's look, in his mid- to upper 30s and sport-jacketed slick. And he wanted Adrian Peterson to know: He was flush with cash.
"I can help you financially right now," the guy said, sidling up to Oklahoma's star running back at an NBA All-Star function in Houston in February. "Anything you need, I can give it to you. Whatever amount you ask for. Ten. Twenty. Whatever."
Peterson shakes his head as he recalls the meeting. The man was talking thousands, of course. Who knew where he might have stopped? "It was kind of crazy," he says. "I was, like, 'I'm OK. I'm cool. I appreciate it.' "
Uncomfortable, the then-20-year-old player walked away.
Peterson has done that — passed on offers that would have compromised his college eligibility and put Oklahoma in the cross hairs of NCAA investigators — five times since he has been at the school, he says.
You wonder what it's like to be college football's Big Thing, a fabulous blend of power, speed and instinct, the Heisman Trophy runner-up as a freshman and a potential top-two or three NFL draft pick in April? Yes, there are the cheers of 80,000 plus in OU's Memorial Stadium. Multiple entries in the record book and more approaching. And there is this: an all-out assault on Peterson's privacy and principles in what most everyone expects to be his final year on campus.
He opens his junior season when Oklahoma hosts Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) on Saturday, and he'll be eligible for the draft when it ends. Barring injury or stacked defenses taking a dramatic bite out of his production, he's looking at tens of millions of dollars written into a five- or six-year pro contract.
He's also looking at a queue of agents, marketers and others who hope to share that wealth.
"Everybody wants to do something for him. Or for his family," Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops says. "In the end, everything has a string attached. ... You've got to understand that.
"I've talked to him a lot. ... Look down the road. Even though it seems attractive now, suck it up. Wait for the right time. Protect your image, do things right, and you'll gain 20, 30, 40 times more than whatever you're being offered now. If you'll just be patient."
California-based agent Gary Wichard concedes having eyes for Peterson but insists he won't be part of the over-pursuit. "I'm going to let him play football first," he says.
Too many others, he grumbles, "will do nothing short of an unnatural act to get involved with him."
Going into the final week of preseason practice, agents are only part of the crush.
Peterson's cellphone typically logs more than 100 voice and text messages a day, many from fans and others outside the circle of teammates, family and friends who are supposed to have his number. Dinners in public have long stopped being interruption-free.
He's already a presence on eBay, an OU helmet with his signature going for $499.99, a signed football for $199.99.