Being the NFL’s best running back does not place Adrian Peterson above the law. It certainly will not gain him any leniency when it comes to the investigative and disciplinarian arms of the NFL. The court of public opinion won’t hesitate to hang him. He is not immune to the scorn of his own family and his own children.
That last one, and arguably the most important one, are consequences that might not be fully realized until Peterson’s children are old enough to grasp the idea of forgiveness for themselves.
All the facts are not known. Peterson hasn’t even even addressed the issue, yet. The legal process is only just beginning, as is the personal conduct review by the NFL and the Vikings. Still, it seems evident that Adrian Peterson’s legacy has forever changed and irreversible damage has been done.
I’m plenty willing to admit a cultural difference exists between Texas (where Peterson grew up) and Minnesota (where I grew up), and that parenting is an unique challenge that doesn’t come with an instruction manual, but I don’t really care. As a father of beautiful two and four year old children, you can bet your ass that there would be lawyers (and, perhaps, other things) if anyone ever returned my children to me in the condition described in the police report from this case.
I think what he did was unequivocally wrong and that he has no good excuse for not knowing that, given the events that took place last year when another man beat another one of Peterson’s son to death, and the All Day Foundation’s commitment to Cornerstone and “Breaking the cycle of domestic violence.”
I have pondered in the past about Peterson’s attitude towards off-field trouble and been in favor of punishing him, via benchings and fines, if it meant preventing issues larger than speeding tickets and bar brawls from arising. Obviously, the punishments that were doled out didn’t do the trick. I’ve been harsh on him, and other prominent Vikings players, during past instances of off-field turmoil.
I say all of this because what I am about to write might be construed, in the minds of some, as me aligning myself with the crowd sympathetic to Peterson and abusers of children.
I assure you, that is not my intent.
I think the government, the NFL, the team, and the money-spending public should all fairly and justly punish Peterson. I’m not going to pretend to know what exactly that punishment is, but I’m in favor of just about anything within reason.
However, there are going to be people in each of those groups, and within the Peterson family, that might be inclined to actually help Peterson become a better man and a better father. If the outrage being expressed by the masses really boils down to the well-being of a young child, then the handling of the punishment and the distribution of support should carry the same priority.
I’m not saying that prison time, or an NFL suspension, or a release from the Vikings are not good options. I’m saying I don’t know. Only people close to Peterson, those that know him well, can possibly have an idea of what it will take to improve Adrian Peterson as a person.
Many Vikings greats, like Cris Carter and Jared Allen, had to make major changes in their lives before they could be fully respected as football players. Peterson was already fully respected as a football player, and has lost that respect by most accounts, and has a long ways to go before he earns it back. It isn’t impossible, though, and for the sake of his children I hope he works his ass off to make it happen.
This stream of thoughts isn’t particularly insightful, and it certainly isn’t well organized, but I’m just as furious and disappointed and conflicted as the rest of you. I don’t know if Peterson will ever play for the Vikings again, but I do hope that he is able to make peace within his family, even if the healing has to happen over years or decades.
In the end, this is a sad situation, and I really hope it has the best of all possible outcomes.