Marcus Peters understands he carries a certain reputation. But he's going to make sure you that whatever you say about him, it's going to be accurate.
During Wednesday's introductory press conference, a reporter posed a question ostensibly about Peters' character. But the reporter included the phrase, "off the field."
The 25-year-old cornerback took exception to those particular words.
"No disrespect — what did I do off the field?" Peters asked.
And it was a fair question. Peters is well aware that he's made some mistakes and has room to grow. But as he put it, those incidents have all come between the white lines — or within the context of being passionate about the game.
"I can say on-the-field issues, that comes with being a competitor. When you want to win so badly, you want to see the team do so good, sometimes teammates and coaches, and coaches and players — you're going to have those arguments," Peters said. "But it's all [for] the good of the team. I want to win so much that, yeah, sometimes I'm going to get pissed off."
After the press conference, Peters elaborated on what he meant with a scrum of reporters.
"When you look back into the game, passionate players always have been the ones who've got the bad rep of being selfish, of not being a team player, and those things. That's not the case for me. My ultimate goal, for me, is to be a winner," Peters said. "I don't like when [people] talk about me and they say that [I've] got off-the-field issues because I could be sitting here, and I could be getting DUIs and I could be doing all the rest of this stuff. I could be getting arrested and I could have a mugshot. And I don't have that burden on me."
Despite Peters' unquestionable ability as a player — his 21 interceptions since 2015 lead the league by far — the Chiefs elected to trade the cornerback in this 2018 offseason. Kansas City did suspended Peters for a game in December for leaving the field of play while the Chiefs' matchup with the Jets was still ongoing. And given what Peters knew about his former organization, he said he wasn't shocked when the rumors first began that he could be on the move.
"I kind of heard a little bit of buzz. Everybody was talking about it earlier in past years. But I wasn't shocked," Peters said. "I just was taking it as what it was going to be — it's a business decision. They felt they needed to make a decision with me to be gone, and it got done. So I applaud the Rams for seeing what everybody else didn't see. It's time to have fun now I guess."
For their part, both general manager Les Snead and head coach Sean McVay said they were satisfied with everything they learned in their vetting of Peters when Los Angeles was considering the trade.
"The themes that came out of [our research] with Marcus in particular [is that he's an] extremely intelligent human being," Snead said. "Smart football player, loves football, loves winning. And key players in that locker room say, 'Hey, we respect the human, the teammate.' I think off the field, you always do your digging there. But very clean human being off the field. And very intelligent human being."
"I think the vetting that we did, the people that were close that we really trust and value their opinion speak highly of the person. And then when you spend time with him, you can tell — this is a good guy," McVay said. "He's fully aware that he's been emotional on the field sometimes. And I think that's a product of him being an elite competitor that is really into the game. And his ability to recognize that will help him to continue to improve that poise and how we handle some of those emotional situations that do come up. And I think that's part of what makes him a special player, though, as well, is that fiery personality, that competitor."
But even as Peters appeared to feel comfortable and appreciated on his new team, the cornerback acknowledged that there's certainly room for him to grow and mature as a player in Los Angeles.
"Everything that comes with growth. What were you doing at 25? Probably some stuff that your moms and pops or probably some other people wouldn't agree with," Peters said. "But all you do is you take it with a grain of salt. You keep it pushing. You always learn from your mistakes and don't blame anybody for your mistakes. You sit there and you take it on your own, you stand tall, and you have fun with it. Because at the end of the day, it's life. There's ups and downs. It's a beautiful journey."