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.