They Need to Make up Their Minds

The Minnesota Vikings issued a statement early Wednesday saying that running back Adrian Peterson must remain away from all team activities until his felony child abuse case is settled.

The move was an about-face for the team, which reinstated Peterson to the active roster Monday after deactivating him following the All-Pro running back’s indictment Friday.

Peterson has an initial hearing scheduled for October 8 in Montgomery County, Texas on a charge of reckless or negligent injury to a child. He is accused of beating his four-year-old son with a wooden switch, leaving bruises and other wounds that were visible days later. Peterson told police that he was merely inflicting discipline and had not intended to hurt the boy.

He spanked his son with a switch. So were my brothers and I by our parents. Charles Barkley has said, without too much exaggeration,

Whipping—we do that all the time. Every black parent in the South is going to be in jail under those circumstances[.]

This pasty white blogger grew up in the Midwest, and spankings with switches, paddles, whatever fell to hand, were commonplace. We weren’t harmed, except in our pride. And we learned discipline. “Beating?” Bruises “and other wounds that were visible days later?” Based on what evidence? Besides rumors reprinted in newspapers, I mean?

The Vikings’ statement continued:

We want to be clear; we have a strong stance regarding the protection and welfare of children, and we want to be sure we get this right. At the same time, we want to express our support for Adrian and acknowledge his seven-plus years of outstanding commitment to this organization and this community.

This is hypocritical. They’re not supporting a man who’s losing a significant part of his career—even great running backs only have careers of 10 years or less. Sitting him down until his case is “resolved” will cost him this year, and the trial and appeals can go on for two or three years before the matter is “resolved.”

Pick a response and stay with it; quit the bouncing back and forth. But as the Vikings choose their final answer, they need to keep in mind a quintessentially American principle: in the end, of what is Peterson guilty? Not of what is he accused, what has he actually done? When was his trial? All the evidence isn’t available, only that subset of it that a press anxious for stories to peddle chooses to make available.

There’s also this minor contractual obligation:

Under the collective bargaining agreement, a team can only deactivate a player for non-injury reasons for a maximum of four games. The same limit applies if [a team] were to suspend [a player] for conduct detrimental to the team.

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