Patrick Peterson knew there was something special about the woman he met more than a decade ago while a student at LSU. He just didn’t know then just how special his future wife would be. They celebrate their eighth anniversary on June 16.
Now, after graduating from the school with a degree in microbiology and attending medical school at Midwestern University in Glendale, Ariz., Antonique Peterson is on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic completing her residency in the ICU at a local hospital that the family prefers to keep private.
In a videoconference with reporters on Thursday, Peterson acknowledged that it has been “a very stressful time” adding, “My wife is on the front lines in that atmosphere every single day and she's definitely in a critical stage in her residency right now.”
He dug deep when asked by Katherine Fitzgerald of the Arizona Republic how emotional it has been and what he had learned about his wife regarding how she has handled everything.
“It has definitely been emotionally draining," Peterson said. "But I tell my wife all the time, she's one of the strongest women that I've ever seen. For her to be able to not only deal with this crazy virus that's going on right now, but also having to come home to a newborn (Parker, born in December), you have a four-year-old (Paityn), having a husband to make sure that the house is still in order and for her to be able to manage all of that? Just remarkable. The good Lord definitely created you lady creatures in a very, very important way because you guys definitely have patience skills that are unmatched.”
Most important, in a country that can be a ball of confusion with mixed messages and many people seemingly blind to the concerns this virus creates, Peterson said, “It’s difficult dealing with some of the situations that she has to deal with, but with her being a doctor, she's definitely been on top of everything that she needs to be on top of as far as being safe with the mask, doing everything that she needs to do to make sure that she doesn't bring it home. And we've definitely followed some very, very close and strict precautions when she gets home. She doesn't even walk in the house with those clothes on. We have her go out in the back and take a shower and get cleaned up in the casita, so she has like her own mini-locker room right now at the house.
“We’re just making sure that we do all things possible to make sure that we're safe in the Peterson residence, with the advice that she's been giving us as a household. Definitely social distancing is by far No. 1. And just making sure that all surfaces that you touch or going to be around is clean and making sure that you wash your hands as much as possible. So, you just have to make sure you do your part to understand the gravity this virus has and what it can do and how it can affect not only your life, but the people around you as well. So you just have to be smart and just hopefully this deal will roll over and we can go back to a normal lifestyle.”
He also knows he has a tremendous responsibility with his daughters. Peterson said, “We just have to make sure that that we're smart, especially having kids because kids like to touch everything, put hands in their mouth and put their face on everything. So, we have to make sure that we continue to preach those steps to our oldest, which is understanding the importance of her being clean.”
He told a story of how before the pandemic Paityn (named after Peyton Manning because Antonique grew up in New Orleans and he was her favorite quarterback) was in school and had a staph infection.
“For a kid, that's very, very painful,” he said. “So we always remind her, ‘You don't want to go back to the hospital. You remember how painful that staph infection was.’ So she's very careful. It's a beautiful thing to watch her grasp onto what's going on in the world because she kind of knows about COVID. She won’t call it corona; it’s COVID-19 to her, which I think is the cutest thing ever.”
Adding to the situation is that Peterson is diabetic, but he insisted as long as everything is safe, he won’t have an issue returning to practice and playing.
Peterson said, “If all the numbers are showing that the numbers are going down. Are they giving us the proper protocol as far as every player getting a temperature swipe at the door, or wearing a mask or the gloves or whatever the case may be. If I feel comfortable enough with those protocols, and I feel that if that's the safest thing possible for us to be able to come back to work, I'm all in. But if it's not, we all have to make a very, very smart decision because you don't want to have the opportunity of bringing that back home. That's the biggest thing. We just have to make sure that we're smart, but it's just so tough to put a finger on how to evolve around this virus.”
Peterson said his understanding is that some guidance from the NFL and NFLPA will be announced Friday concerning the offseason plan moving forward. As a player with nine seasons under his belt, he also expressed his thought no what should happen, considering his rookie year was 2011 when the lockout delayed everything until the start of training camps.
“I'm looking forward to hearing what the league office and NFLPA has come up with and I'm sure that it's going to be the safest thing possible. But if I had a choice or opinion to give, I would just treat it like the lockout year. Let OTAs be over because we're about to be in June next week, so we'll have three weeks left in the offseason program, so it really doesn't make sense to come back in June as much as I would love to be back. But I think (it’s best) if you let this offseason pretty much be canceled versus trying to put everybody in one building. We still have to be smart.”
His suggestion is to have players report in early to mid-July for an “OTA, minicamp feel and then go on to training camp and hopefully get the season started.”
It’s a common-sense approach befitting someone who is a leader and that also sees up close with Antonique the reality of what we all face.
Still, he reiterated again, “But we definitely, definitely, definitely need to be smart if they do allow us to come back into the building.”