With his 26 tackles and "next-man" speed, Arizona's fourth-year cornerback and three-time Pro Bowler has helped lift his team to an NFL-best 9--1 mark.
DAN PATRICK:Do you have a problem with Roger Goodell having so much power to discipline players?
PATRICK PETERSON: I don't. I'm doing everything in my power to make sure I'm doing everything correctly [so I don't] leave any decisions in his hands.
DP:What about Goodell hearing appeals of his own decisions?
PP: I'm O.K. with it. Some guys may think differently. At the end of the day we have to abide by the rules.
DP:Help me understand; what defines a "defenseless receiver"?
PP: That's a very, very good question. I don't know myself. It's making the game so much more difficult for the defensive guys. I can't play the game thinking, worried about how I'm gonna hit this guy. My belief: If he's on the field, he's not defenseless. If he's between those white lines, he's not defenseless. Quarterbacks are throwing the ball in spots where defensive backs can't adjust, and some of these receivers are ducking their heads to make it worse.
DP:How are you supposed to hit these guys?
PP: I don't know. I think when they catch the ball, you have to let them run, then tackle them. Something like that.
DP:Who's the fastest receiver?
PP: The fastest I ever went against is [Miami's] Mike Wallace. Him and [Washington's] DeSean Jackson. I call it "crackhead speed."
DP:Crackhead speed? That's not an official term, is it?
PP: It's not an official term. That's just something we say back home. When you're really fast, we call it crackhead speed.
DP:What kind of speed do you have?
PP: I have next-man speed. However fast the guy I'm guarding is, I'm just as fast. [Laughs.]
DP:Does it bother you when people don't give the Cardinals respect?
PP: We're all we've got in this locker room. We could care less what someone says outside of it. No one knows what we go through day in and day out. No one knows how we prepare for games. We feel like the world is against us. They can't wait for us to lose, so we make sure we don't leave any plays out there on the field. We know what it takes to win and how to win close games. As a team we are respecting the process.
DP:Do you close your eyes when you tackle [Seattle's] Marshawn Lynch?
PP: Honestly, everyone closes their eyes. Not only with Marshawn Lynch, but tackling in general. It's difficult not to.
Raiders quarterback Derek Carr cleared up any speculation about whether he wears eye makeup. "I've been hearing that since I was little," Carr said. "I can assure you I don't wear eyeliner. The Lord has just blessed me with some great eyelashes. There's nothing I can do about it." ... When we spoke, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith tried to measure his criticism of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. "I don't get angry and I don't get disappointed," Smith told me. "[But] when our players see a system that is unfair and arbitrary, when [they] see owners treated differently than [they are treated], that's a problem." ... Former Oregon QB Joey Harrington knew where he stood before the Heisman announcement in 2001: "At the opening dinner the president of the New York Athletic Club introduced me as Joey Harrington of Oregon State University. The moment I heard that, I'm like, Well, I'm not winning. Drink, please."
MICHAEL J. LEBRECHT II FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (PATRICK)
CHRISTIAN PETERSEN/GETTY IMAGES (PETERSON)
JED JACOBSOHN FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (CARR)
ALEX TRAUTWIG/GETTY IMAGES (SMITH)
ERICH SCHLEGEL/GETTY IMAGES (HARRINGTON)