With Adrian Peterson, the NFL finally gets it right

Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (Photo: Ronald C. Modra/Getty Images)

Vikings running back Adrian Peterson
(Photo: Ronald C. Modra/Getty Images)

Go back to September. We were outraged. We were embarrassed. And more than anything, we were done. Video of Ravens running back Ray Rice knocking his fiancée unconscious followed by pictures of the four-year-old son of Vikings running back Adrian Peterson with whip marks on his body was more than we could bear. We wanted a culture change and we wanted it now. We took to social media. We threatened to boycott (I didn’t, but others did). And the National Football League responded.

Armed with new advisors, new guidelines, and a new zero-tolerance stance on domestic violence, the NFL conducted a test of its revised personal conduct policy. And on Tuesday, Adrian Peterson became its poster boy.

In a statement released by the NFL, Commissioner Roger Goodell ruled that contrary to popular belief, Peterson would not be eligible for reinstatement by the league until April 15, 2015 at the earliest. His conditions (which include counseling, therapy, and community service) and reasoning were clearly spelled out in a letter addressed to Peterson and made public through the media.

“First, the injury was inflicted on a child who was only four years old.  The difference in size and strength between you and the child is significant, and your actions clearly caused physical injury to the child.

 

Second, the repetitive use of a switch in this instance is the functional equivalent of a weapon, particularly in the hands of someone with the strength of an accomplished professional athlete.

 

Third, you have shown no meaningful remorse for your conduct.  When indicted, you acknowledged what you did but said that you would not ‘eliminate whooping my kids’ and defended your conduct in numerous published text messages to the child’s mother. You also said that you felt ‘very confident with my actions because I know my intent.’ These comments raise the serious concern that you do not fully appreciate the seriousness of your conduct, or even worse, that you may feel free to engage in similar conduct in the future.”

 

-NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to Adrian Peterson

In the end, Goodell left no room for doubt. It’s not perfect. There are still ethical, legal, and procedural issues to navigate. But in one long overdue ruling, the NFL finally demonstrated it’s not messing around when it comes to violence against women and children.

And for the first time in months, I was proud.

XO

Dear Adrian Peterson, You’re No Hero

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Dear Adrian Peterson,

This is a letter I never thought I would have to write. I’m just so sad, disappointed, and mad.

Maybe this one hits closer to home because I grew up a Vikings fan in Minnesota. I have family there. I have nieces and nephews who’ve been running around in your jersey since they were old enough to walk, and whose proudest moment in life was the day they got to meet you and shake your hand.

Now someone has to tell those kids that you won’t be playing on Sunday. Because you went to jail for beating a child. A child not much younger than they are.

Yes Adrian, I’m sad for the kids I love. But not nearly as sad as I am for the kids you love. They have a star football player as their daddy. The guy they look up to, the guy everyone looks up to, the guy they see on TV, the guy who all their friends want to meet…and the guy who beats them with belts and tree branches when no one else is around.

And yet, they still love you. And they still idolize you. Because you’re their daddy. And they don’t know any better.

But you, Adrian, you know better. I don’t care how you were raised in East Texas. I don’t care if your daddy “whooped” you growing up. Physical abuse of a child is not an “act of love.” And no one should know that better than you. You lost a child (a son you had never met) at the hands of another man, who delivered a beating so severe his poor little body couldn’t recover.

And you know what? While people were defending you, calling for your privacy, asking us not to judge, I was judging you, Adrian. I judged you for having a two-year-old son you never met. I’m still judging you for it. And the fact that you did the same thing to your other kids, only to a lesser degree, well…I’ll judge you for that for the rest of my life. And yours.

We’ve been talking all week about the damage a football player can do to a woman. But anyone can harm a child. It’s just that most of us choose not to.

I think it’s time we redefine what makes someone a hero. It’s not throwing a ball, catching a ball, or running fast while holding a ball.

A hero is someone who protects.

You’re no hero, Adrian.

Now, someone’s got to tell the kids that.

Crushing…On Adrian Peterson

Minnesota Vikings Running Back Adrian Peterson

This week’s Crushing comes by request…and I am happy to take requests!

Adrian Peterson…those eyes, those abs, those yards!  And why is everyone complaining about those white pants?  They look pretty good on AP.

How do we fantasize about Adrian Peterson?  Let us count the ways…we fantasize about him on our fantasy team with those points he racks up every week.  We fantasize about him on our real team…with those rushing yards, those touchdowns, those missed tackles.  And of course, we just plain fantasize.  I’ll leave that to you…

The Minnesota Vikings running back returned this season after tearing his ACL and MCL in his left knee on December 24, 2011.  He underwent surgery and was questionable for the start of the 2012 season, but in true AP style, he was rocked and ready on opening day.  The first game of the season, Peterson had 84 yards and two touchdowns against the Jacksonville Jaguars.  He also passed Robert Smith to become the Vikings’ all time leading rusher.

Yes, all that and a quick healer too.  Adrian Peterson with his strength, speed, and stamina, coupled with his quick recovery time leads some to question whether he’s superhuman.  He’s super hot, super sexy, and super good.  That makes him a superhero in our book.

And although we know him as “AP,” Adrian Peterson has another nickname.  It’s “AD,” for All Day.

I’ll leave that to you too…

XO

(You’re welcome, Jill.)

Unsportsmanlike Conduct

Unsportsmanlike conduct, unnecessary roughness, personal fouls galore…and the NFL season hasn’t even started!  Every week seems to bring a few new player arrests, some of them usual suspects (Dallas Cowboys Wide Receiver Dez Bryant), some of them unlikely offenders (Minnesota Vikings Running Back Adrian Peterson).  Judging by the off the field antics, you’d think the summer of 2012 is another lockout for NFL players.  No organized team activities, no NFL Code of Conduct, no disciplinary action, only…it’s not.

Reports earlier this week were that 28 players had been arrested since the Superbowl.  That was before we found out about Tennessee Titans Wide Receiver Kenny Britt’s DUI arrest and now Kansas City Chiefs Defensive Back Donald Washington, of which I learned as I was writing this.  I have lost track, but am confident that number is right around 30.  This week’s highlight reel includes: Seattle Seahawks Running Back Marshawn Lynch’s DUI, Denver Broncos Defensive End Elvis Dumervil’s aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, Dez Bryant’s domestic abuse (of his mother), St. Louis Rams Defensive End Robert Quinn on DUI, now Britt and Washington on the same charge.

Peterson’s arrest prompted Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton to weigh in, comparing players to soldiers returning home from battle (a statement he has since apologized for).  Dayton also told Minnesota Public Radio that with almost half the year off, “Idle time is the devil’s play.”  We haven’t heard much from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell during all of this.  Though every time I hear about another arrest, I picture the scene from The Exorcist with his head turning all the way around.  And smoke coming out of his ears.

It is the NFL officials who are on lockout this summer and they seem to be on their best behavior.  Negotiations continue, but Goodell has hired replacement referees who are currently being trained in case they need them for the start of the season.  Even if they don’t, he could always use them next offseason!

The good news is…next week marks the start of training camp for many teams, meaning players will have far less free time on their hands.  But before that, comes another weekend.  And another opportunity for an infraction (or two, or three).  Off the field red flags the league has yet to respond to.  But can’t afford to ignore.

XO