• Coat and Sweater, Diesel Black Gold; Watch, Hublot
  • Coat, Ermenegildo Zegna; Shirt, Public School; Pants, Alexander Wang; Watch, Hublot
  • Coat, Ermenegildo Zegna; Sweater, Versace; Pants, Dockers; Shoes, Giuseppe Zanotti

Raising Arizona All-Pro cornerback Patrick Peterson is taking the Cardinals to new heights.

    There are few jobs in professional sports that carry the second-to-second pressure of being an NFL cornerback. In a sport where there is very little margin for error, your technique and reads must be perfect every time. One slip on some wet turf and the receiver you are covering may be heading to the end zone with the game’s winning touchdown. The Arizona Cardinals, fresh off a 10-6 season under coach Bruce Arians, know they may have the best cornerback in the game in Patrick Peterson. So this summer, they decided to lock him down.
     During this past training camp, the Cardinals signed Peterson to a five-year extension worth $70 million ($48 million guaranteed). The contract is intended to keep Peterson with the Cardinals through the 2020 season. It established Peterson has the highest paid cornerback in the league. (Sorry, Richard Sherman.) And while Peterson is honored to be the highest paid, he will be the first to tell you that on any given Sunday, it doesn’t mean anything.
     “These things have a domino effect,” he says. “Richard got his deal and he was the highest paid. Then Joe Haden came along, and he got his deal and was the highest paid. Now I’m the highest paid, and it’s great. But I know, in a few months or a year, someone else is going to come along and knock me down a rung on the ladder.”
     Suddenly, Phoenix is starting to feel very much like a football town, and not just because the Super Bowl will take place at the Cardinals home stadium in February. It’s the growing frenzy for the home team that has made him glad to call Phoenix his new home.
     “I absolutely love it here,” he says. “My wife loves it here. She’s in her second year of medical school in Glendale and things are going great. And on Sundays, it is awesome to really feel the fans behind us. We’re even starting to see some of our fans on the road now. And for those people who have stuck it out and been following the team, for us to play winning football for them and to feel their energy, there’s nothing like it.”
     With that energy comes expectations, expectations can be high and daunting. For Peterson, a three time Pro Bowler in his first three season, he finds himself at age 24 as part of the veteran leadership of the team. “Technically, I am a veteran,” he says, “but I’m still learning and growing as a player.”
     Part of that learning process is dealing with the public commentary when things go wrong. “The criticism you receive helps to build you, make you stronger minded. You have to learn to deal with the expectations placed on you and the things that are said. Coming into the league as the fifth overall pick, expectations were already high. My expectations are high. And the NFL is a dog eat dog world. You can’t play this game at the cornerback unless you have a supreme amount of confidence. You’re going to get exposed. Everyone gets exposed. Can you handle the exposure? Everyone sees when you mess up. If a lineman misses a gap, or a linebacker misses a read, the average fan doesn’t see it for what it is. But if someone gets by you, you’ll see it over and over again.”
     To relieve the pressure, Peterson falls back into the hobby of his youth that he hopes will be his business after football is over—classic cars. A friend of Peterson’s dad had a warehouse space next to his dad’s work. “That’s where the older guys would meet up, share a cold one and work on cars. Being around my dad’s friend, watching him build old school race cars, it was an amazing experience.”
    From there, Peterson became a Chevy man, fixing up classic muscle cars of the 70s and remodeling them with his own vision.  He will spend time looking for a car that has a frame that is still well kept. The cars are usually in the $8,000-$10,000 range. Though parts are easy to find, the challenge comes in the upgrades. “When I get a car for the first time, I love to sit in it, close my eyes and envision what it can be,” he says. “I want it to be my own creation. I’ve done a lot of creative things to my cars. The one I’m most proud of is my 1972 Chevelle. I installed an iPad that controls a lot of the functions inside the car. It controls the stereo, the air conditioning modules, everything. The car becomes an extension of your creativity.
   Right now, the cars Peterson has fixed up are in his own collection. Soon, he hopes to have his dealership license so he can begin selling the remade cars publicly. But can he ever bring himself to part with one of his own creations? “Honestly, I don’t know,” Peterson says. “One of my guys has 150 cars. When he goes to sell one, he usually changes his mind. He’ll say, “Ahhh, I’ve got a vision for them.’”
   Peterson’s post football career also contains a vision of being involved in fashion is some way. He’s started a small P2 Nation clothing line already with an eye towards the future. “I’m always thinking about the future,” he says. “I keep notes. But that’s all it is right now, the future. You can’t let yourself be distracted. You have to focus on what’s at hand.”
   And for a cornerback, that means what is literally at hand across the line of scrimmage—an elite wide receiver who is trying to beat you every chance he gets. Peterson wouldn’t want it any other way.