Mailbag: Patrick Peterson

Patrick Peterson, Cornerback / Arizona Cardinals - The Players' Tribune

This is The Tribune Mailbag, a series in which athletes answer questions sent from our readers. Our past editions have featured athletes from all corners of the sports world, including Megan RapinoeBrian Scalabrine and even the Founding Publisher himself

In this edition, we asked Arizona Cardinals All-Pro cornerback Patrick Peterson to answer your questions about Bruce Arians, Colin Kaepernick and being ranked 18th on the NFL Top 100 list.



I have the No. 1 pick in my fantasy draft. It’s a PPR league. If you were me, who would you pick? (And don’t cop out and pick a teammate.) — Derek V.

Probably a little late now … but PPR? Shoot, I’d take Antonio Brown. What’s that guy get, like 300 targets a year or something? Crazy.

What’s the toughest road stadium you’ve ever played in, and what made it so tough?
— Kayla

Aw, man … it’s gotta be Seattle. We play there every year, and it’s always crazy.

The Seahawks have great fans, and they get loud. (They don’t get louder than the Red Sea, but they’re still pretty loud.) They can make it tough for opposing quarterbacks to communicate with their offenses and move the ball down the field.

I remember last year when we were up there. We were leading by three points with about two minutes to go and we had the ball at midfield. It was third down, so if they stopped us, we would have had to punt the ball and they would have had a chance to drive down the field for the tie or the win. So the fans were going crazy. I was on the sidelines, and I swear, I’ve never heard anything louder in my life. It was like … scratching. I could feel the sound rattling inside my ears, inside my head, like my brain was itching. That’s how loud it was.

But the best way to silence a crowd is to make a big play. And on that third down, Andre Ellington took the handoff on a draw, hit the sideline and went all the way for a touchdown to give us a nine-point lead.

After that, you could have heard a pin drop in that stadium.

It’s also tough the play there because the Seahawks are always a top five team — they’re always contending. And beating a great team in their house is never easy.

I bet you hear some crazy trash talk from the wideouts you cover. Who’s the worst trash talker you ever went up against?
— Brandon G.

Nobody has ever come close to Steve Smith Sr.

It was my first game of my rookie season — this was back when he was with Carolina — and he had eight catches for 178 yards and a couple of touchdowns. And the whole game, he was in my ear and in my head. Every time he made a catch.

He just kept it coming.

Five seasons into my career, and still, no trash talker has ever come close to Steve Smith Sr.

I feel like Bruce Arians might be crazy. Or he might be a genius. Which one is it?
— Andrew

You know, to be great, you gotta be a little bit of both. And he is definitely plenty of both. He has a great football mind — just watch on Sundays and you can see that. But you’ll also see him on the sidelines turning pink and red, yelling at the referees. Now when you see that, yeah, you think he’s crazy.

Bruce Arians by Rick Scuteri/AP Images

Have you seen All or Nothing yet, where they go behind the scenes with our team? In one of the first episodes, Coach Arians goes off on a guy who parks in his parking spot. A practice-squad guy. And Coach Arians loses it — I mean off the charts.

But when it comes to football, in my book, he’s a genius.

So it’s a little bit of both.

What do you think your biggest strength is as a corner, and your biggest weakness?
— Toma P.

My biggest strength is being able to play well with my back to the quarterback. I love to play up at the line of scrimmage, right in the wide receiver’s grill. To do that, I need to play really well with my back facing the quarterback. I need to be able to read the receiver’s body language and eyes to tell me what’s going on in the backfield — if the ball is coming, if the QB is scrambling, if he checks down to a back.

As for my biggest weakness … I don’t know, man. I’m not saying I don’t have one — I just can’t think of one to pinpoint.

I’ll just say that I’m continuously working to be the best corner in the game, so I’m always identifying areas where I can improve.

What’s your take on Colin Kaepernick sitting for the national anthem?
— Harrison G.

I definitely received his message. And I guess that’s the most important thing, right? Whether you thought he went about it the right way or the wrong way, at the end of the day, he’s standing up for what he thinks is right, and I understand where he’s coming from.

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, middle, kneels during the national anthem before the team's NFL preseason football game against the San Diego Chargers, Thursday, Sept. 1, 2016, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

So say whatever you want about how he went about it. But his goal was to get people talking about an issue in our country that is important to him, and we’re talking about it. And that’s progress.

I’m a mother of two boys, four and six years old. They want to play football, and I want them to play football. As a parent yourself and someone who’s obviously familiar with the risks and rewards of playing such a dangerous sport, what advice would you give a parent who’s trying to decide when or if to let their kids play football?
— Marlene C.

Football is definitely a violent sport. As a parent, I wouldn’t want anybody to tell me how to raise my kids. So I won’t say you should or shouldn’t let your boys play football. What I will say is that this game has blessed me in more ways than I could have ever imagined and I’ve learned many valuable life lessons from playing. It’s also a fun game and it’s the most watched sport in America. So there are a lot of positives to playing the game.

But I also understand the fear. Yes, there are risks. And you should be educated on those risks. But most of all, if your kids do play, you should make sure they are being taught the proper ways to tackle and take on collisions. There are programs out there that are teaching better technique, like not leading with your head. The same things the NFL is trying to legislate out of the game.

So I guess my advice would be to get educated on the risks and pay attention to how your kids are being taught. Talk to them about it. You can’t take away the risk, but you can take steps to minimize it.

I hope that helps.

You were No. 18 on the NFL’s Top 100 list. HOW ARE YOU NOT TOP 10 BRUH?!
— Toney

Right? I don’t know, man … I guess you gotta ask the other guys who voted. I definitely believe I was a top 10 player last year. My stats and accomplishments on the field speak for themselves. But it is what it is. I’m always working to be the best player in the league, and it’s still an honor to have been voted by my colleagues as the 18th-best player. But at the end of the day, it gives me something else to shoot for. So hopefully this year I’ll continue to do great things, and maybe I can crack the top 10 next time.

Arizona Cardinals defensive back Patrick Peterson (21) leads the defensive backs huddle before the NFC Championship game against the Carolina Panthers, Jan 24, 2016 in Charlotte, NC. (Gene Lower via AP)

… Also, who’s the best cornerback in the game NOT named Patrick Peterson?

I feel like I’m the best corner in the game. I don’t know who’s next. You could ask Richard Sherman, Josh Norman or any other corner, and they’ll tell you they’re the best in the game, and it doesn’t matter who’s No. 2. You need that confidence to play this position at the level at which we play it.

So in my mind, the list goes:

  1. Patrick Peterson
  2. Everybody else

Most players have pregame rituals or superstitions. What is your pregame or day-before-a-game ritual/superstition? Thanks for the time and best of luck this season.
— Chad

I have to take a shower before I put my pads on and take the field. I don’t know what it is. I’ve been doing it ever since I’ve been in the league. I have to shower right before I get dressed. I need to be superclean and fresh when I take the field.

If you could bring one retired NFL QB back into the league so you could pick him off, who would it be?
— Collin

The two Joes: Joe Montana and Joe Namath. I’d take Joe Montana because he’s known for winning Super Bowls, and you always want to be able to play against — and show out against — the best in the game. And I’d take Broadway Joe because … well, he just feels like a cool guy to pick off. Like if you picked him off late in a game he would come give you some crap. He’d get in your face about it. I just think it would be fun.

I know you like to golf, and I saw you shot a 74 at Pebble Beach. What’s the best score you’ve ever shot and what’s your favorite course to play?
– Mat L.

The lowest score I ever shot was a 71 at Superstition Mountain right at home in Arizona. But I was really proud of that 74 at Pebble.

As for my favorite course to play, it’s probably a tie between Bandon Dunes in Oregon and Valhalla in Kentucky. They’re pretty much neck and neck. Bandon Dunes has spectacular views of the Pacific. My wife hooked me up with a trip out there for my birthday, and it was just awesome. And Valhalla … just the layout of that course. It’s old-fashioned, but the undulation of the greens, how you have to go over creeks, and there are a lot of places where you have to lay up and play smart. It’s just a well-designed, beautiful course that’s really challenging.

What’s something nobody can beat you at (don’t say football)?
— Mack H.

Aw, man … that’s a tough one.

I don’t know. Let’s come back to that. Sorry, Mack.

Which of your interceptions from your career or life is your favorite and why?
— Emilie A.

It’s funny because my favorite pick came when I was having probably the worst season of my career, in 2014. It was against the Rams. It was late in the fourth quarter and I had just gotten an interception on the previous drive. We were up by three and the Rams had the ball on their own 20. It was second-and-nine. Kenny Britt was on a drag route coming across, and the QB’s throw was a little high and it went through Kenny’s hands. Now, in that moment, I think he’s going to catch it, so I’m coming up like I’m going to tackle him. I don’t see the ball until it goes through his hands. So I jump up and I tip it over back over in front of me — while I’m in the air — grab it and take it for a touchdown. It pretty much sealed the win.

I’ve been a die-hard Cards fan forever. You guys have so many great veteran leaders on both sides of the ball. But who’s a young guy on the team people should be looking out for this season? And is this the year? PLEASE TELL ME THIS IS THE YEAR!!
— Michael K.

First off, Michael, I hope this is the year for us, too. We’re going to do everything we can throughout the season — put in the work, respect the process and do what it takes to get to the playoffs and the Super Bowl. That’s our goal. That will always be our goal. Hopefully we’ll see you in Houston.

As for a young guy to look out for, I have to go with my fellow LSU Tiger, Lamar Louis. He had a great camp and he had a phenomenal dress rehearsal game against the Texans, and he’s only going to continue to get better. He has the speed, he has the size, he has the total package. Sometimes it takes a while for guys to break in on the defensive side, but I think he’s gonna be a force to be reckoned with on special teams. He’s definitely a guy you should watch out for.

If you didn’t make it to the NFL as a football player, what would you have wanted to be? —

I probably would have been a firefighter. I don’t know what it was about them — the truck, the uniform, the fact that they save lives — but I always looked up to firefighters growing up. In elementary school, they had the D.A.R.E. program, where they had all the law enforcement and rescue teams come to our school. Police officers, swat teams, firemen, paramedics — they even had the police officers on horses. And I always thought the firefighters were the coolest ones.

I’ve always had the mentality of wanting to lend a helping hand. My grandparents were very selfless, and they instilled that in my parents as well. When I was getting recruited to play in college, my parents went without electricity in the house for a couple of weeks to save enough money for my dad to take me on a 19-hour drive to a recruiting camp. It was an important camp for me to get the national exposure I needed to be listed as a top recruit. And their sacrifice paid off. I dominated the camp and I vaulted up to the top of my recruiting class.

My parents and grandparents always demonstrated what it meant to be selfless and to sacrifice to help others. It’s just second nature to me.

So if I wasn’t in the NFL, I think I would have found a way to help others by saving lives, and I probably would have been a firefighter.

What’s your favorite memory from playing at LSU? GEAUX TIGERS!!!!
— Meghan

It has to be when I returned a punt for a touchdown against West Virginia in Death Valley and I hit the Heisman pose.

I mean, I didn’t win the Heisman, obviously. But we got a big-time win against West Virginia, and anytime you do something like that in Death Valley, you always remember it, because those fans down there just go crazy. So that punt return is one I’ll always remember.


What’s something nobody can beat you at (don’t say football)?
— (Still) Mack H.

Man … I guess I’d have to say a five-mile run. Not that nobody could beat me on a five-mile run — there are guys out there who can run faster than me. I only say it because most NFL guys don’t like to run that far. When I bring young guys out to train with me, they’re like, “Damn, Pat, why you run so far?” Or, “Why we gotta run for so long?”

I’m like, It’s only 40 minutes, dude.

But the young guys can’t hang.

A note to Louisiana:

I didn’t get any questions about what’s been going on back in Louisiana with the recent flooding, but I wanted to send a message to the people who have been affected.

I’m not a Louisiana native. Even though I only lived there for a couple of years while I was playing football at LSU, it’s a place I once called home. To this day, I still consider it a second home. So my heart goes out to the people and the families affected. My wife’s family still lives in New Orleans. Although we are fortunate that they have not been affected, we’ve seen many communities that have been. There are people who don’t even have clothes to put on their backs. We’ve donated clothing to help those families, and we’re doing more to deliver other goods and supplies to help the many families and communities that are suffering, some that have lost everything. Our hearts truly are with you.

I know that with all the natural disasters that have hit Louisiana in recent years, it feels like we can never catch a break. But we’ve come back stronger from far worse, and this time will be no different.

You have a few former Tigers and Louisiana boys here in Arizona, and we’re all praying for a speedy recovery for the city of Baton Rouge and all the other places and people who have been affected.

You’ve bounced back before, and you’ll do it again.

Stay strong, and God bless.


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