Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson told Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones in a June telephone call he would like to play for the Cowboys at the end of his tenure with the Vikings, according to an “Outside the Lines” report.
“Well, I understand, Adrian,” Jones told Peterson during the call. “I’d like that, too … Well, I love your story. I love your daddy’s story. I’ve always respected what you’ve been about. I’ve always been a fan of yours.”
The telephone call is recounted as part of an expansive “Outside the Lines”/ESPN The Magazine profile of Jones by ESPN senior writer Don Van Natta Jr. that was published Thursday.
The story also details Jones’ lingering angst over passing up quarterback Johnny Manziel in the NFL draft and Jones’ continued emotion over former Cowboys head coach Jimmy Johnson, whom Jones says will not be put in the Cowboys’ “Ring of Honor” that recognizes contributors to the franchise’s success.
As for the Peterson call, Van Natta was in Jones’ suite at AT&T Stadium when a friend of Jones’ handed the phone to him. Peterson had talked first to a Morgan Stanley money manager who had attended George Strait’s final concert on June 7 at AT&T Stadium. After the concert, Jones and several others remained in the suite; Peterson talked with the man, who handed the phone to Jones without saying who was on the line.
“Well, we’ll see what we can do, if we can make that happen,” Jones, who is also the Cowboys’ general manager, told Peterson. “Hmm hmm … I’d like that, too … Well, we’re talking pig Latin here, but let’s see if we can do that … We’re talking pig Latin here, but let’s see what we can do about that. OK, Adrian, thanks.”
Peterson, 29, is in the fourth year of a seven-year, $100 million contract that will pay him $11.75 million this autumn to play for the Vikings.
The NFL’s rules on player tampering lay out specific steps to take if a team is contacted by a player who is under contract with another team: “… the contacted club must immediately report such contact to the owner or operating head of the club which holds the player’s rights.” Failure to do so can result in “severe” penalties from the commissioner’s office.
Jones, who confirmed that Peterson told him he wanted to play for the Cowboys, said he has not talked with Peterson since the call and that he didn’t think the discussion should be considered tampering. This week, he said he did not contact the Vikings about the conversation.
Peterson released a statement Thursday afternoon through the Vikings.
“This was a casual conversation between NFL colleagues in which I never indicated I wanted to leave the Vikings,” the statement said. “I have always said I understand the NFL is a business but that I would love to retire as a Viking.”
The Vikings said in a statement: “We are focused on the 2014 season, and as we have consistently communicated, Adrian is an integral part of the Vikings organization.”
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