Upon hearing the news that Vikings superstar running back Adrian Peterson was indicted for child abuse, Vikings zealots quickly flocked to sports talk radio to express themselves:
The Vikings have the worst luck.
I sure hope back-up running back Asiata is ready to step up.
Will Norv change his game plan, and will Bill have a counter move prepared?
Will the NFL be extra harsh on Adrian, because they are taking heat about their handling of Ray Rice?
How many games will we be missing him?
Now who should I start on my fantasy football team?
What makes me sick to my stomach is that I can’t keep the same trifling questions out of my head.
But the more I think about it, the more I’m in a very different place. Now that Peterson has admitted that he inflicted those wounds on a four-year old child, this diehard Vikings fan hopes the Vikings immediately release or trade the best running back in Vikings history, so I never am tempted to cheer for him again.
Understand, I’m no sports hater. I spend embarrassing amounts of time obsessing over sports, and save my most obsessive behavior for the Vikings. I’ve had a particular man crush on Adrian Peterson. His game changing talent, inspiring work ethic, and sheer entertainment value have been easy to love.
But here’s the thing: My favorite player beat a four-year old child with a wooden stick. Until he bled. In multiple places. A four-year old child.
“Yeah, but everyone makes mistakes, and everyone deserves a second chance,” say my fellow Vikings rubes. “My dad spanked me to teach me right from wrong, and that made me the man I am. I guess AP is so strong he just got a little carried away.”
No. No. No. One of the more powerful men on the planet beat a tiny 4-year old child with a stick until he bled in dozens of places. If reading that sentence isn’t motivating enough for you, close your eyes and imagine how that would look and sound if it had been captured on videotape, Ray Rice style.
I’ve never understood the logic of “my kid was physically aggressive so I’m going to be much more physically aggressive with him to teach him a lesson.” That teaches a lesson alright. Just ask Adrian, who reportedly was beaten by his father.
But for those who believe in corporal punishment, you still have to admit that there is a line that cannot be crossed, where corporal punishment becomes child abuse.
Where is the line? If this child had one welt where one open-handed blow accidentally got out of control, maybe you could have a debate. If this child was three times older, maybe you could have a debate. But with multiple blood drawing wounds on a 4-year old, there can be no reasonable debate. This is child abuse.
The law enforcement system and NFL will decide what Peterson’s legal and professional punishments should be. I hope to God that the law enforcement system makes sure Peterson’s many children are safe from him, and that Peterson can get counseling to help him understand how messed up this inherited parenting approach is.
But whatever the authorities decide, and whatever corrective actions Peterson commits to, I don’t want a child abuser held up as the face of my favorite team. I don’t want a child abuser representing my state. I don’t want my tax dollars subsidizing a sports palace to showcase the child abuser.
Most importantly, I don’t want other rationalizing child abusers to see thousands of Vikings fans shrugging off that child’s bloody welts and cheering wildly the next time the admitted child abuser busts off a long run. Because if Peterson remains a Viking, you can bet that will happen, and it will be truly nauseating.
As much as I love the Vikings and football, lots of things in this life are bigger than the game. Standing up for abused children is much bigger than the game. The nation’s child abusers need to see that the world will stick up for abused kids and hold abusers accountable, even the powerful and famous.
The Vikings need to immediately release or trade the best running back in Vikings history. As much as that bites on a football level, it has to happen.