ADRIAN PETERSON: Broken Men and Broken Children

Written by Pauline Wolak on September 17, 2014

[Editor’s Note: Update: USA Today has announced: “Vikings deactivate Adrian Peterson indefinitely — Team announces running back will stay away from team activities.]

“It’s easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” – Frederick Douglass

On a day he should be celebrating the Vikings decision to reactivate him; there is mostly silence from the Adrian Peterson camp. After speaking candidly to the public, his attorney seems to have gone into defense mode. One abuse accusation can be combated with a hefty PR campaign. A Houston area television station’s bombshell report of a second incident, however, can’t.

It seems there’s another four-year old, another Texas county, and another abuse allegation complete with text messages and picture. This child, Peterson states in the texts obtained by KHOU’s I-Team, got a “whoopin” for “cussing.” And the head injury? Allegedly caused by the car seat. Said Peterson’s attorney, Rusty Hardin, “This is not a new allegation, it’s one that is unsubstantiated and was shopped around to authorities in two states over a year ago and nothing came of it. An adult witness adamantly insists Adrian did nothing inappropriate with his son. There is no ongoing or new investigation.”

This “whoopin” reported to have occurred last June, a year before Peterson was arrested for beating a preschooler with a stick. This child’s mother, like the one in Minnesota, reported the incident to CPS.

It should be noted that both children are four. I guess the NFL’s “Don’t beat your kids with sticks” class was the same day as the “Use a condom, you idiot” class.

Before anyone jumps on the Peterson bandwagon, I’d suggest a couple of things. First, look at the pictures of the violence inflicted on a four year old for pushing his five year old sibling. (The irony shouldn’t be lost on anyone). Read the reports. The child was struck on bare skin with a stick, leaves shoved in his mouth, repeated blows to the backs of his legs, his buttocks, and his scrotum. Defensive wounds were visible on his hands a week later. The boy was beaten hard enough to break the skin. Dried blood can be seen in the week old pictures. When questioned, he told authorities of the many belts his father owned as well as the “whooping room” at Peterson’s house.

If that doesn’t raise a red flag, go outside, grab a stick, and beat yourself with it because you’re beyond reach.

Perhaps that was harsh but that’s exactly what is needed at this point. Far too many people still support Adrian Peterson’s action. I don’t mean they support him as a player or as a guy that “made a mistake,” though those people exist too. (And they’re wrong).

I’m talking about members of the public that support the beating of his son; that insist he was asserting his rights as a parent. They make the ridiculously absurd argument, “I was hit with switches as a kid and I’m just fine.”

Peterson seems to be making the same argument in a statement he released this morning,
I have learned a lot and have had to reevaluate how I discipline my son going forward. But deep in my heart I have always believed I could have been one of those kids that was lost in the streets without the discipline instilled in me by my parents and other relatives. I have always believed that the way my parents disciplined me has a great deal to do with the success I have enjoyed as a man.  I love my son and I will continue to become a better parent and learn from any mistakes I ever make.

“…success I have enjoyed as a man.” He’s a hell of an athlete. Certainly, Peterson is one of the best running backs in NFL history. He’s achieved more fame and earned more money than most 29 year olds ever will. Professionally he is a success.

It was less than a year ago that I first wrote about Adrian Peterson and the loss of the son he never bothered to meet. Not until he was on his death bed, anyway. It was then that he lost his shine to me. All the ability in the world, all that God-given talent, can’t turn you into a good father.

Fifteen months ago, Adrian Peterson was first accused of harming one of his children. Eleven months ago he rode the coattails of the loss of “his” son. A boy he didn’t know existed until two months before his life was snuffed out by an abusive monster. Standing over his battered, lifeless body should have been a wake-up call to Peterson. A mere seven months later, he beat a four year old so severely, his little body was bleeding.
That isn’t a “whoopin” or a spanking or a parent simply asserting his rights. That’s abuse.

I gave the Vikings organization credit last week for deactivating Peterson. Team owners Zygi and Mark Wilf seem to have changed their mind, however. In a statement announcing his return to the field this Sunday,

As evidenced by our decision to deactivate Adrian from yesterday’s game, this is clearly a very important issue. On Friday, we felt it was in the best interests of the organization to step back, evaluate the situation, and not rush to judgment given the seriousness of this matter. At that time, we made the decision that we felt was best for the Vikings and all parties involved.

It WAS important. Until the Patriots beat you 30-7 on Sunday. In some circles I guess professional success trumps private failure. Broken men will stay broken and the money will continue to roll in.

The bandwagon sure is full this week.




Pauline is a proud wife and mother of three. When she isn't being the world's greatest Girl Friday, she is volunteers her time as a school librarian and athletic director. Pauline enjoys football, politics, good beer, and arguing with anyone. She's a devout pro-life Catholic. Pauline believes in the 1st Amendment and uses it on a daily basis, most notably to ambush unsuspecting family members in political debate! You can find her work here at Clash and at Follow her on twitter at @MiStateFan.