The Minnesota Vikings organization had said that they were going to let the Adrian Peterson legal case play out, but apparently they changed their minds. And that’s a good thing. The Vikes placed Peterson on the “Exempt/Commissioner’s Permission list,” deactivating him from all team activities during his child abuse case.
As you probably know, Peterson was indicted last week on a charge that he injured his 4-year-old son by
beating spanking him with a switch. Peterson isn’t denying the allegations. He admits that he hurt the child. Peterson was inactive last Sunday, but the team reinstated him Monday. At the time of the reinstatement, the Vikings explained that they were going to let the case unfold in the Texas court. Peterson has an arraignment scheduled in early October.
So what changed between Monday and early Wednesday morning? Well, a lot.
First of all, a story emerged that another 4-year-old son of Peterson was also injured when Peterson was “disciplining” him last year. Allegedly the child suffered a head injury on his car seat when Peterson was punishing him. The injury apparently left a scar and the incident resulted in a CPS case being opened.
So did the Vikings and the NFL know that the “switch” case was the second child abuse allegation against Peterson? If they did, it sure didn’t stop the team from reinstating him on Monday. What message did the reinstatement send? To me, the Vikings were saying that winning football games is more important than two kids being injured by their father.
You might be thinking that it’s the right thing to let these things play out in court before making a decision to suspend/deactivate/cut a player. But history doesn’t indicate that the “wait-and-see” approach is the Vikes’ protocol.
The Vikings put Chris Cook on paid leave for most of the 2011 season while he awaited trial on a domestic assault charge. They cut Caleb King and A.J. Jefferson in recent years within days of their assault charges. This past winter, they cut Erin Henderson after a DUI arrest. But Adrian Peterson gets indicted and admits that he hit his kid with a tree branch — and gets reinstated? If that’s not about winning football games, I don’t know what it is.
So, why deactivate him now? The Vikings owners made a statement which you can read in its entirety here. I’m not saying that they aren’t sincere, but there’s more to it. Let’s follow the money…
On Monday, Radisson hotel chain decided to “suspend its sponsorship” of the Vikings. On Tuesday, some Nike stores pulled Peterson merchandise from their shelves. Mylan Inc. also said they were no longer working with Peterson to promote the EpiPen. Peterson’s own foundation — All Day Foundation — went on hiatus, effective immediately. Other team sponsors such as U.S. Bank said they were monitoring the situation. And then what might be the straw that broke the camel’s back… an Anheuser-Busch spokesperson (the official beer of the NFL) released this statement:
“We are disappointed and increasingly concerned by the recent incidents that have overshadowed this NFL season. We are not yet satisfied with the league’s handling of behaviors that so clearly go against our own company culture and moral code. We have shared our concerns and expectations with the league.”
And… then “coincidentally” Adrian Peterson was deactivated — indefinitely.
On one hand, the deactivation is surprising because just days ago the Vikings appeared willing to try to win football games at all costs. On the other hand, it’s not very surprising because after the Ray Rice incident, this was the only logical outcome — as we previously predicted.