If you’re looking for Roger Goodell, he’s probably locked away in a remote cabin deep in the woods, totally off the grid and drinking himself blind on Absinthe and Drano. Just when it looked like the NFL’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad week had reached its absolute nadir, the news broke that Adrian Peterson, the Minnesota Vikings star running back, had been indicted by a grand jury in Texas for reckless or negligent injury to a child and is wanted for arrest.
The incident occurred in May when Peterson’s 4 year old son was visiting him. The police report, obtained by Nick Wright of CBS Houston, says that scuffle between the boy and another one of Peterson’s children ended with the victim “pushing him off a motorbike video game.” As punishment, Peterson said he gave the boy a “normal whooping” by hitting the boy repeatedly with a tree branch. When the child returned home, his mother noticed he had considerable bruises on his body.
She took him to a doctor, who contacted the authorities. The injuries included cuts and bruises on his back, buttocks, ankles, legs, and scrotum, The doctor “described some of the marks as open wounds and termed it ‘child abuse.’ Another examiner agreed, calling the cuts ‘extensive.’”
Peterson has been reportedly investigation for some time and testified for a grand jury weeks ago.
The Vikings announced that they are deactivating Peterson for this Sunday’s game. “The Vikings are in the process of gathering information regarding the legal situation involving Adrian Peterson,” they said in a statement. At this time, we will defer further questions to Adrian’s attorney Rusty Hardin.”
Okay. Let’s hear from Mr. Hardin:
“This indictment follows Adrian’s full cooperation with authorities who have been looking into this matter. Adrian is a loving father who used his judgment as a parent to discipline his son. He used the same kind of discipline with his child that he experienced as a child growing up in east Texas. Adrian has never hidden from what happened. He has cooperated fully with authorities and voluntarily testified before the grand jury for several hours. Adrian will address the charges with the same respect and responsiveness he has brought to this inquiry from its beginning. It is important to remember that Adrian never intended to harm his son and deeply regrets the unintentional injury.”
That’s a very different picture than the one CBS Houston paints, in which Peterson’s actions don’t seem “unintentional” at all but rather part of his standard parenting practices.
After the beating, “Peterson then texted the boy’s mother, saying that one wound in particular would make her ’mad at me about his leg. I got kinda good wit the tail end of the switch.’”
Peterson also sent a number of casual text messages and spoke with the police in an untroubled manner, saying that because his son didn’t cry afterward, he didn’t know “the switch was doing more damage than intended,” as if this somehow was the boy’s fault. Given the fact that he’s beating up a 4 year old, all of this reads as particularly awful and damning.
The boy also told the police that leaves were stuffed in his mouth and his pants pulled down “Daddy Peterson hit me on my face. There are a lot of belts in Daddy’s closet,” he said, adding that Peterson, “likes belts and switches” and “has a whooping room.”
A whooping room. I recommend reading the entire piece—and if you’ve got the stomach for it—looking at photographs of the injuries the child suffered.
Peterson tweeted this earlier this afternoon, presumably around the time he found out about the indictment. Bad move.
To be clear, what Peterson (allegedly) did is abhorrent and almost beyond comprehension. That said, there will be people that defend him—even some of his fellow NFL'ers.
So far, there’s been no official word out of the NFL commissioner’s office. It’s not entirely clear if this incident—for which Peterson has not been convicted, of course—qualifies under the NFL’s new, sterner domestic violence policy.
Goodell’s letter announcing that domestic violence would be treated with more than a two-game suspension didn’t mention child abuse, but for many experts, they both fall under the same nightmarish umbrella. In the past, the NFL and the teams in question have always held off on levying any suspensions until the legal process has been completed but it’s almost impossible to imagine that this’ll be business as usual in a post-Ray Rice football world.
Goodell is positively toxic right now and his basic instinct—as the great dispenser of righteous justice, “the Ginger Hammer,” as Deadspin is prone to calling him—will be to throw the NFL’s thick, Talmudic rulebook at Peterson, in a misguided attempt to reclaim some kind of moral high ground for the league. Even if a lengthy suspension or even a ban is merited (it is), no matter what he does, it’s going to piss off a huge chunk of the League’s fanbase. Going nuclear on Peterson—even if it’s just—will look like self-serving, hypocritical bunk after barely touching Rice before this week. Toeing the company line of waiting for a conviction, on the other hand, will just go to the show the League’s willingness to turn a blind eye to violence when it comes to one of their marquee players.