Commentary | Adrian McPherson out for Tampa Bay Storm season, but his life is back on track

adell@bradenton.comJuly 13, 2013 

TAMPA

Just when it all seemed to be coming together, it's gone.

Adrian McPherson was putting up incredible numbers, even for the Arena Football League's stop-me-if-you-can offenses.

He was doing something no quarterback in league history had done, using his legs as a lethal weapon.

McPherson set a league record for quarterbacks with 31 rushing touchdowns to go along with his 59 touchdown passes and only five interceptions. He revolutionized how the league's quarterbacks play. Despite missing two games, he is second in the league with 415 yards rushing and leads the AFL with 4.56 yards per carry.

All the transgressions that ruined what once was a promising career at FSU were buried. He was looking like the kid we knew at Southeast High, the one who went on to become the only athlete in state history to be named Mr. Football and Mr. Basketball.

And now it's gone.

The Tampa Bay Storm put McPherson on injured reserve Friday because of a recurring injury with his lower back, a team official said. He is done for the season.

The only thing we know is that his life was not meant to be easy.

But it's different now because he is different.

McPherson's future on the football field is uncertain for the time being, but as a person he has changed. If he never throws another football, his life is on the right track.

Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers great and current Tampa Bay Storm President Derrick Brooks knew it, which is why he reached out to McPherson and got him to leave the CFL's Montreal Alouettes, where he spent the previous five seasons.

"Adrian McPherson is a key member of our team. It is disappointing that his record-breaking season was cut short due to injury. Adrian is a tremendous quarterback, and we are confident that he will make a full and speedy recovery," Brooks said.

Those are nice words, but Brooks doesn't have to worry.

McPherson's life will be fine, even if he doesn't get that rumored invite to Chicago's training camp from the Bears' new head coach, Marc Trestman, who was McPherson's head coach for the Alouettes.

McPherson has had to deal with an avalanche of obstacles and, yes, you can argue that he brought many on himself. But give him credit. He never whined about himself.

He always said his biggest regret was hurting his parents.

He was a schoolboy legend at 15 years old and got drunk on himself, as most kids that age would.

Then he threw it away, getting caught up in things that never made sense, like stealing a check, forgery and allegedly gambling on some games, though that was never proven.

Not to excuse anything, but McPherson was never violent or accused of being involved with drugs. His biggest crime was that stardom came to him too quickly and he started to believe he was invincible.

A little of that invincibility is still there on the football field, which can be good or bad. He ran more than any quarterback in AFL history this year and put himself in harm's way.

McPherson is now a muscular 6-foot-4, 225 pounds and looks as if he was chiseled out of stone. But this is football, and when a quarterback exposes himself on a field that at times seems no bigger than a phone booth, he is taking a risk.

But you can't blame him. He wants to win and show those NFL teams that he is worth the risk of an invite to camp, that his skills demand it.

McPherson can still throw the ball on a rope or put a soft touch on it and get into the hands of a receiver. He is the reincarnation of Randall Cunningham.

An NFC scout once had this to say about McPherson in a statement to ESPN: "Physically, he's the kind of guy you'd create if you could build an athlete from scratch. Character-wise, the kid has been so clean since he got in trouble, he's squeaky. But that still may not be enough for some people."

The character issues have long been in the rear-view mirror or should be.

He has done everything you would ask from a choir boy.

He is different now.

Instead of being the man, he is a man.

Alan Dell, Herald sports writer, can be reached at 941-745-7080, ext. 2112. Follow him on Twitter at@ADellSports.

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