NFL locker rooms aren’t your typical workplace and "people say crazier things than just the n-word," Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson told FOXSports.com Tuesday.
With the NFL still abuzz over the Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin bullying controversy, Peterson shared his experiences with the types of situations described in that case. Peterson said that explicit language, including the n-word and more, is often thrown around but that he views it as part of the culture.
"You really got to understand the environment you’re in," Peterson said in a telephone interview. "You are in the locker room with 60 alpha males. Sixty guys who are in the NFL, they are men. So, when I actually heard about the situation (in Miami) it was funny to me because I really couldn’t believe it was taking place in the NFL locker room.
"There’s so much that’s said in the locker room that people would go crazy if they knew half of the things we say, but you know what, that’s the world we live in. Half the time it’s nothing that’s taken personally, and it’s not really a word that’s thrown out there a lot, especially by the opposite race."
Peterson acknowledged having heard the n-word and "crazier things" in his own locker rooms but said he never took it personally in the male-dominated environment.
"There’s a couple guys — I could use myself as an example — that might throw that out there that’s not African-American and I don’t take it personally because I know where it comes from," Peterson said. "Not to say that the use of the word should be out there, but it is what it is. It’s men. There’s no other [place], not even basketball where there’s so many guys in one space. Things like that happen. People say crazier things than just the n-word."
Martin, then with the Miami Dolphins, walked out on the team on Oct. 28, citing emotional reasons. He accused his teammate, Incognito, of using graphic language, including the n-word, and crude behavior in a long-standing pattern of bullying against him, sparking a national conversation on use of racial language and other hazing rituals in the locker room. The issue took another turn last week after Los Angeles Clippers forward Matt Barnes used the n-word in a tweet following an ejection from an NBA game.
Incognito was suspended indefinitely after the incident. In a sit-down interview with FOX Sports’ Jay Glazer earlier this month, Incognito admitted to many of the details Martin described but emphasized his fondness for Martin and said he believed his actions were part of an accepted locker room culture. Martin met with NFL investigators late last week.
When asked if the n-word is in his everyday vocabulary, Peterson was quick to say he avoids using it.
"I don’t really use it at all, but other people might be comfortable using it all the time. It just comes natural to them just when they’re having a conversation. I know people like that and I don’t take it personal.