EAGAN, Minn. – Minnesota Vikings cornerback Patrick Peterson used it as a teaching moment.
After his teammate, Cameron Dantzler, was burned for the game-winning touchdown that secured the Detroit Lions’ first win on Dec. 5, Peterson played the role of a veteran leader.
“[Dantzler] texted me right after the game. He said, ‘big bro, what did I do wrong?’ and I was like, ‘first of all, you were too deep in the end zone.’ We talk about this all the time,” Peterson said. “You’ve got to defend the goal line. Every edge of that goal line, that’s what you’ve got to defend.”
Dantzler wasn't made available to the media following the game and there wasn't much explanation given to what the second-year corner did wrong on that final play. Peterson shared his insight not from the dais in a news conference, or in a scrum with reporters, but on his “All Things Covered” podcast.
It’s become a venue for the 31-year-old eight-time All-Pro, as well as his guests, an eclectic group that includes Nick Saban, Shaquille O’Neal, Ice Cube, Kirk Cousins, LaVar Ball and John Smoltz.
At a time when COVID-19 restrictions have changed the reporter-athlete dynamic from casual locker room interactions to sterile news conference settings, Peterson’s podcast, which he co-hosts with his cousin and two-time Pittsburgh Steelers Super Bowl champion Bryant McFadden, allows listeners to hear the real, unfiltered thoughts from the Vikings cornerback on a range of topics.
“People love to hear who you are when you’re not wearing a helmet, and sometimes that makes people relate more to you when they know more about you,” McFadden said this summer. “[Peterson’s] not boring. He’s not just a football player. He is so many other things and he does those things so well that it’s easy to divert to other topics on our show because he has his hands in so many different piles that a lot of people don’t know about.”
McFadden began his career as a sportscaster while he was still playing in 2006. At the end of his seven seasons in the NFL, the former cornerback ventured into the media space full time and eventually became an analyst for CBS Sports.
When the COVID-19 pandemic began in March of 2020 and altered live-studio shows, McFadden decided to get creative and host interviews via Instagram Live. His first guest was Peterson, and their banter felt so natural that McFadden approached his cousin about doing something regularly in the form of a podcast.
"We almost had that set up"— All Things Covered (@ATCoveredPod) November 12, 2021
John Smoltz says he was CLOSE to having a televised golf matchup vs. @tonyromo.
We know we'd be watching 🏌️📺🍿
More with Smoltz 👇https://t.co/QDDizAk2fo pic.twitter.com/LAeOEnvOFl
Peterson was interested, now they just needed a name for the show that would illustrate the multitude of topics they would discuss.
“I played corner and was required to cover wide receivers,” McFadden said. “Pat is still playing corner, doing the same. So 'All Things Covered' made sense.”
Eric DeBerardinis, who produces “All Things Covered,” has the same thing written at the top of each rundown when he, Peterson and McFadden plan out each show: locker room, barbershop, film room and therapy session. If they can cover all those areas with the guests they interview and with the back-and-forth of Peterson and McFadden, that’s a successful show.
As Peterson finishes his 11th NFL season -- and first in Minnesota after 10 in Arizona -- the podcast looms as perhaps a stepping stone for a post-football career in broadcasting. His extensive experience being on the other side of being interviewed helped Peterson prepare to be the one asking the questions.
“I feel like I’m getting better each time I’m on the show, knowing when to ask certain questions, being more engaged, listening better to the interviewee,” Peterson said earlier this year. “Going into it, I had no expectations. I didn’t know all this stuff existed. I knew there was some opportunity to make good money off it, but I didn’t know that podcast thing can be as much as you put into it.”
Update for those asking....Appreciate all the prayers! https://t.co/pfVKBn26Qg— Patrick Peterson /P2 (@P2) October 19, 2021
With tens of thousands of sports podcasts, Peterson and McFadden knew the only way they could build their brand and generate staying power with was to treat it like another job. While still in the NFL, Peterson has more commitments, so McFadden drives the dialogue and direction of each show while his cousin sits shotgun. The two record over Zoom most Mondays and drop an episode each week, sometimes two. A handful of segments appear in each episode, including “Has Pat Heard?”, “21 questions” and “Choppin’ it Up.”
Before the end of their first year, “All Things Covered” generated more than 50 episodes.
Peterson and McFadden use a long list of connections in and out of the NFL to book guests, which has often yielded headlines.
Peterson uses his platform to break his own news, including his goal of playing 15 seasons in the NFL, the idea of moving to safety during the end of his time in Arizona and switching his jersey numbers from 21 to 7, the latter of which he wore during his career at LSU.
His guests have also revealed things not talked about elsewhere. Seattle safety Jamal Adams told Peterson and McFadden he fought depression while playing for the New York Jets. Denver Broncos quarterback Teddy Bridgewater discussed his time with the Carolina Panthers and how the coaching staff didn’t dedicate much practice time to a two-minute or red zone offense in 2020. Former NBA player Antoine Walker shared a story about gambling with Michael Jordan for 36 hours straight. Ex-Bears receiver Brandon Marshall detailed his “tumultuous” relationship with his former quarterback, Jay Cutler. While rehabbing a torn ACL last season, a candid Odell Beckham Jr. recalled how he thought he would retire a New York Giant and discussed his reputation.
As athletes continue to branch beyond traditional media to control their message, podcasts like “All Things Covered,” which is produced independently of the Vikings, allow for content that is not filtered through the lens of team-produced media.
There are a couple of others like this where current players are producing and driving their own content, from Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James’ “Uninterrupted” platform to Chicago Cubs outfielder Ian Happ’s “The Compound.” While in the thick of his NBA career, J.J. Redick launched “The Old Man and the Three.”
“As an athlete, you’re able to control how you want to get your message to come across,” Peterson said. “When you’re with the team, there’s only a certain amount of things that you can say that they’ll be OK with. You’re still being respectful, but if there’s something you want to get a deeper dive into, now you have an outlet to get your message across.”
Based on charts from Apple Podcasts, “All Things Covered” has cracked the top 100 football podcasts numerous times in the past calendar year. As the podcast continues to grow, so does Peterson’s level of involvement. He plans to seek in-depth feedback this offseason to perfect his on-camera presence for the parts of the podcast that are simulcasted on YouTube. That could help open up more opportunities when he retires, perhaps moving from podcasting to commentator/analyst work.
“Honestly, now it’s starting to become a goal,” Peterson said. “I can definitely see myself after football being on camera somewhere, broadcasting. People told me even when I was in college that I have a great voice for radio. That always stuck in the back of my mind and as I got older in the league, it’s gotten closer to the front of my mind.
“Now that I’m doing a podcast and seeing myself more on TV and am actually enjoying it, it’s definitely becoming a reality that this could be my life after football.”