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.

NFL Free Agency: Free for All. But Not Free — at All.

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A new NFL season is upon us.

With NFL free agency signings slowing down a bit, I thought it would be a good time to step back and review what we’ve learned so far about the 2014 season.

John Elway and Bill Belichick are already engaged in a season-long chess match. So far, the Denver Broncos have claimed Aqib Talib, T.J. Ward, and DeMarcus Ware, leading us to believe that “offense wins games — defense wins championships,” may be their mantra this year.

Meanwhile, the Patriots gathered Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner, and Brandon LaFell. And according to their former cornerback, Aqib Talib (who claims he does not have a hip problem), the Patriots report fake injuries. Which surprises no one.

Michael Vick will stay in green and white, but he won’t be wearing number 7. Vick may challenge Jets quarterback Geno Smith for the starting job — but says he won’t challenge him for his number. Also, the Jets aren’t happy unless they have a full-fledged quarterback controversy on their hands. And ESPN camped out at training camp.

Mark Sanchez will also stay in green and white, as he heads from the Jets to the Eagles, where he will compete  for the job of backup quarterback to Nick Foles with Matt Barkley. Apparently, the job requirements for backup quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles include good hands (for clipboard holding), playing for USC, and being really, really, ridiculously good looking.

Speaking of ridiculously good looking…in releasing wide receivers Steve Smith, Brandon LaFell, Ted Ginn, and Domenik Hixon, the Carolina Panthers must think quarterback Cam Newton really is Superman and that he can throw the ball and catch the ball — himself. No one will be more impressed than Gisele Bundchen if Newton is indeed able to pull this off.

The NFC North is playing musical chairs (or musical ends), with Julius Peppers going to the Packers, Jared Allen to the Bears, and the Vikings still deciding which Packer they will sign this season.

Denver running back Knowshon Moreno is taking his talents (and his tears) to Miami.

Former Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert is still in the NFL, now backing up Colin Kaepernick at the San Francisco 49ers. And making twice as much money — for now.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones signed former Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden to ride his bench. And his unicorn.

If you’re a veteran player, prepare to sign a short contract, with one year deals becoming incredibly popular this offseason. There’s a reason they call the NFL “Not For Long.”

And not for long just got, well — less long.

Stay tuned.

XO

Dear London, On behalf of the NFL…I apologize.

Look, kids...Big Ben. With Big Ben.  (Photo: CBS Sports)

Look, kids…Big Ben. With Big Ben.
(Photo: CBS Sports)

Dear London,

I apologize. When NFL Commission Roger Goodell announced two games in London this season, we were under the impression that he was trying to create overseas interest in the National Football League.

Then, we saw the teams he was sending. And let’s just say…YAWN! Or as you might say…WANKER! Or…bloody hell. Or something like that.

Don’t get me wrong, the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Minnesota Vikings both have a great history. For the Steelers, it’s just been a few years. And for the Vikings…a few decades. I can say that, because I grew up a Vikings fan.

It’s not all bad, though. The Steelers have a quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger. And he’s really big. So, they call him Big Ben. You know, kinda like your Big Ben. So…there’s that.

And the Vikings have a quarterback too. Sometimes. His name is Christian Ponder. And he’ll make you ponder, alright…mostly why you’re watching this game. Don’t worry about him. His wife has a really good job. He’ll be fine.

We’re supposed to be allies. You send us David Beckham. And we send you Ben Roethlisberger and Christian Ponder in return?! At least we sent Tom Brady over last year. Hopefully there’s still some goodwill carryover from that.

So, anywho…just try to enjoy the game. If that’s possible. And the good news is, you have another one to look forward to on October 27th, when Wembley Stadium hosts the San Francisco 49ers and…oh, forget it.

The Jacksonville Jaguars can’t fill their own stadium.

Why does the Commissioner hate you so much?

But, as I like to say, football is kind of like pizza. And sex. Even when it’s bad…it’s not that bad.

And American football at its worst is still better than soccer. Or as you call it…football. Futbol?! This language barrier is killing me.

Hopefully they’ve scheduled a good halftime show…like David Beckham kicking field goals.

In his underwear.

Cheers!

XO

Guest Blogger | My Dad: On Vikings Loyalty

My parents, Jerry and Sue Hill on their 40th anniversary this year

Introduction

My dad, inspired by the Vikings story I wrote on his birthday last week (see Worth a Ponder), asked me if he could guest blog on being a Vikings fan.  I responded, “Yes!  Please do.”  Well, he did.  And when I read it, I thought two things: 1) I guess I know where I got my writing skills, and 2) This can’t be the only time he does this.  And so, I give you Jerry Hill…

I have a photograph of me with Fran Tarkenton at the Minnesota Vikings training camp in Bemidji, Minnesota in August of 1964.  I was a scrawny little ten year old and Fran towered about 8 inches over me.  But what a player.  Fran would take the snap, drop back 30 yards and run around in circles until the heavy linemen dropped.

Also at the camp were Jim Marshall, Carl Eller and my favorite player, Rip Hawkins.  My brother and I loved him, a big tough player with a name like a pirate.  Years later I got to know Rip and when I told him that, he broke into a big smile.

Since that photo was snapped I have been truly hooked as a Vikings fan.  Now almost 50 years later, the seasons’ memories wash over me.  So many great players, so many mismatched Super Bowls.  Lately it has been tough.  I tried to abandon the Vikings and pick another team, but the only team that seemed to suit me is the New York Jets.  I am sure a therapist could explain that to me.

However, for some reason I have decided to come out of the closet and once again proclaim my loyalty to the Vikings.  When we are at a party my beautiful wife, a diehard Colts fan along with the owner of this blog, will announce to the group, “Jerry is a Vikings fan.”  I walk away with the howls of laughter stinging me.

I walk to the bar, grab a beer and smirk.  Few people understand the Norse plan.  We have an ancient/Chinese/long term/vision/plan.  We don’t think in terms of years, we think in terms of decades.  Many, many decades.  We are waiting to make our move.  When?  Can’t tell you, it is part of the plan.  But when we do, there will be hell to pay…..