For better or worse, sports gives us a backdrop to ask, learn, and process some of society's ills. Ray Rice's punching his fiancée in the elevator was a horrible thing that we all wish had never happened, and the video of the incident surfacing certainly changed a lot of lives, most notably Ray Rice's, as he was promptly kicked out of the NFL indefinitely. (A suspension that has since been overturned on appeal.)
The one silver lining in the Ray Rice incident (and the unfortunate spate of domestic violence that seemed to follow it with players like Greg Hardy and Ray McDonald) is that it brought awareness to a societal issue that has long gone misunderstood or, in the case of the NFL and its leadership, largely ignored.
But domestic violence against a significant other is a cut and dried issue -- any right thinking person knows it's a bad thing. Discipline of a child veers into a much more gray area, a gray area that is flush with racial and geographical biases. This is where Adrian Peterson took us in 2014...
We all knew Adrian Peterson as the hard charging, superhero running back for the Minnesota Vikings, the beast whose ACL defied the laws of biology when he returned to the field mere months after shredding it, and not only returned productively, but returned historically productive, rushing for over 2,000 yards and taking league MVP honors in 2011.
Then after Wek 1 of this season, news broke that Peterson was being investigated on charges of child abuse in Montgomery County. The file described an incident in which Peterson used a wooden switch (a small branch) to punish his four year old son. The photos in the file showed open wounds caused by the switch to various parts of the boy's anatomy, including his scrotum.
Peterson would be indicted on felony child abuse charges, but eventually plea out for a misdemeanor of reckless endangerment. While the court case was ongoing, since Week One of the NFL season, Peterson had been on a special commissioner's exempt list that kept him off the field but still getting paid. Peterson assumed (perhaps based on conversations with league official and former player Troy Vincent) that once the court case was resolved, he'd be allowed back on the field, with his exempt list time representing time served.
Commissioner Roger Goodell had different ideas.
Immediately following Peterson's plea agreement, Goodell suspended the running back for the remainder of the season with the ability to apply for reinstatement on April 15, 2015. Among a handful of things, Goodell was angry Peterson didn't attend a meeting at the league office to discuss his case (a meeting that would've been unsanctioned under the collective bargaining agreement, which is why Peterson chose not to attend) and also contended that Peterson didn't show a proper amount of remorse in the wake of his arrest.
Peterson appealed the suspension, which Harold Henderson (former NFL employee and Goodell stooge) upheld. Now, the big story with Adrian Peterson in 2015 will be "Where does he play football?" Minnesota is a reputedly liberal state and the Vikings saw a bloodletting in sponsorship dollars after Peterson's arrest.
The early money is on the Dallas Cowboys. Because Jerry Jones. The lesson in all of this is that when you know Roger Goodell is playing God, you better show the proper amount of remorse.
Also, hug your kids.
ADRIAN PETERSON POSTS IN 2014:
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