The NFL suspended Texas native Adrian Peterson without pay for the rest of the 2014-2015 season, meaning the Minnesota Vikings running back will miss the final six games, and possibly more next season.
Peterson has already missed his team’s first 10 games while going through the criminal court process (he received his salary during that time). He pleaded no contest to misdemeanor reckless assault on Nov. 4 after using a switch to whip his 4-year-old son, leaving welts and marks on the boy.
Peterson said he was disciplining his child in the same manner that Peterson had been disciplined while growing up near Palestine in the 1980s.
Peterson, by most accounts, has been a model employee of the NFL for seven years until this incident. And while whipping a young child until he has marks on him is extreme discipline, it does appear to be just that — discipline. Peterson wasn’t freebasing crack, robbing, or stealing, he was disciplining his child and went too far.
Now the criminal courts have done their job, Peterson is taking his medicine (which includes plenty of public shaming and loss of endorsements), and here comes the NFL to slam down the hammer.
The NFL, always an, ahem, incredibly sensitive and intuitive corporation,worried that Peterson hadn’t shown enough remorse, and had even defended his actions on social media. The NFL wants him to attend a counseling program of its choosing.
“The timing of your potential reinstatement will be based on the results of the counseling and treatment program set forth in this decision,” Goodell said in a statement. “Under this two-step approach, the precise length of the suspension will depend on your actions. We are prepared to put in place a program that can help you to succeed, but no program can succeed without your genuine and continuing engagement. You must commit yourself to your counseling and rehabilitative effort, properly care for your children, and have no further violations of law or league policy.”
The NFL turned a blind eye to wife beating, pill popping, whoring, steroid using, and general thuggery for decades until it finally, grudgingly bowed to societal concerns and started policing its players better. That was good. The NFL has made an especially strong push in 2014, particularly with its current domestic abuse campaign.
But making Peterson the symbolic fall guy doesn’t seem right based on his long record of good conduct, and if only for the fact that stripping away the income that he uses to support his family will ultimately hurt his child — the same one the NFL says it wants to protect.
Peterson will reportedly be appealing the NFL’s decision.