warning Hi, we've moved to USCANNENBERGMEDIA.COM. Visit us there!

Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

Are We Being Too Harsh On Adrian Peterson?

Garrett Schwartz |
September 20, 2014 | 2:22 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

Peterson's Week 1 action may be his last this season. (Joe Bielawa/Creative Commons)
Peterson's Week 1 action may be his last this season. (Joe Bielawa/Creative Commons)
The National Felons League, more commonly known as the NFL, has seen its fair share of disaster in the past few weeks.  Blow after blow - Greg Hardy, Ray Rice, and now Adrian Peterson - have been making life awfully difficult for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and his estimated $44 million salary.  

Just a week into the NFL season, reports surfaced that Minnesota Vikings' starting running back Adrian Peterson was arrested in Texas after being indicted for “reckless or negligent injury to a child.”  Peterson has owned up to these claims, defiantly stating that his use of “whoopings” were "needed for memories" in disciplining his child, similar to the way in which he was raised.

After missing Minnesota’s Week 2 matchup against New England and initially being reactivated for this week’s game against the Saints, the Vikings announced that they would indefinitely suspend their crown jewel.

Wait, doesn’t all of this sound familiar?  

It was only a few weeks ago that Roger Goodell similarly reversed his own course of action in punishing the new poster boy for domestic violence, Ravens running back Ray Rice.   After the release of TMZ’s disturbing Ray Rice footage, many members of the press called for the head of Roger Goodell and demanding Rice never step foot on an NFL field again.  Consequently, just hours after the media backlash began, the NFL suspended Rice indefinitely. 

While Rice’s case appears much more serious than that of Peterson, both of these NFL stars now find themselves off the field, indefinitely.  

If you have been keeping up with the Peterson saga, I’m sure you have been reading much of the same in the media: child abuse is unacceptable, beatings are a means of the past, Peterson doesn’t belong on the field, etc.  With each new off-the-field issue surfacing, the press has jumped at the opportunity to attack the NFL.

This is the problem with the NFL, as of late.  It wasn’t Goodell or the Vikings who thought that a human athlete beating his four year-old son was flat-out wrong.  If they were the ones who found the situation disturbing, Peterson would never have been reactivated on Monday, even briefly.  The NFL hasn’t been calling the shots in the past weeks.  

The media and the outspoken members of the general public have been the decision-makers of the National Football League.  

Weeks before the TMZ footage was ever released, the NFL announced a new policy in which first-time domestic assault offenders would serve a six-game suspension.  This move by the NFL seemed smart, appeasing critics who claimed that the NFL has been insensitive regarding serious off-the-field issues.   However, the NFL has failed to implement this policy in any of its recent cases.  

Roger Goodell is an arbitrary abritrator. (Wikimedia Commons)
Roger Goodell is an arbitrary abritrator. (Wikimedia Commons)
If the NFL is going to take legal matters into its own hands, at the very least there needs to be some level of consistency.  Everybody knows the consequences of making a mistake on the field - a holding penalty is 10 yards and an offside penalty is five yards. Why are the rules so unclear and inconsistent off the field?

According to a USA Today log of NFL players arrested in the last decade, the NFL has a repeated history of ignoring accounts of domestic violence.  For example, Pro Bowl wideout Brandon Marshall was arrested three times from 2007-2009 on accounts of domestic violence, yet he was only suspended one game in total for all three incidents.  

How is it that Peterson could miss the whole season when the NFL has turned its head on similar issues so many times?  The answer is easy.  In a world where social media and instant news updates have come to dominate our media consumption, the outpouring of public opinion has bullied the NFL in its decision- making.  And it’s not fair.  

On Friday, Goodell held a press conference in an attempt to address much of the recent heat directed toward the league.  Goodell took some of the blame from recent weeks, saying, “Unfortunately, over the past several weeks, we have seen all too much of the NFL doing wrong.  That starts with me.”  He continued by saying, “Our standards and the consequences of falling short must be clear, consistent, and current.  They must be implemented through procedures that are fair and transparent.”

While it’s great that the NFL plans to take action in the future, what about now?  In no way am I condoning domestic violence, but it just doesn’t seem fair that the NFL is making an example out of Peterson.  Peterson is a first-time offender and has been seen by many as a role model for his work ethic (especially after his 2011 ACL tear).

It’s time for Roger Goodell and the Minnesota Vikings to do their job and sack up.  If Peterson is going to be disciplined (and he should), fine.  But at the very least, make a decision that is “fair and transparent.”  

Reach Staff Reporter Garrett Schwartz here and follow him on Twitter.



Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

Watch USC Annenberg Media's live State of the Union recap and analysis here.