Adrian Peterson Suspended for the 2014 Season; When Should He Be Allowed Back?

Adrian Peterson was suspended earlier today for “at least” the rest of the 2014 season, in a surprise to just about no one.  With the NFL clearly being the kind of governing body that reacts based on public reaction, we could all expect Peterson to not play a game in 2014.  Just can’t see how the NFL would bring back Peterson this year, especially after the Ray Rice issues.

It probably sounds like I’m taking shots at the NFL and Roger Goodell — which I really, really like to do — but here, I can’t.  Goodell actually handled this suspension perfectly (at least right now — it’s a little weird that both he and the Vikings flip flopped back in Week 2, but I’m just talking about the final ruling today).  ALmost pains me to say it, but Goodell nailed this one.

When you read his explanation in a letter sent to Peterson, Goodell put the emphasis on the right aspects of the situation, for the most part.  While I wasn’t a fan of him saying, “While an adult may have had a number of options when confronted with abuse…” because that’s clearly Goodell thinking of the Rice situation during this letter in  a completely different situation, he made up for it on the 3rd bulletpoint:

“Third, you have shown no meaningful remorse for your conduct. When indicted, you acknowledged what you did but said that you would not ‘eliminate whooping my kids’ and defended your conduct in numerous published text messages to the child’s mother. You also said that you felt ‘very confident with my actions because I know my intent.’ These comments raise the serious concern that you do not fully appreciate the seriousness of your conduct, or even worse, that you may feel free to engage in similar conduct in the future.”

THIS is the kind of stuff that the NFL, and the fans, have to care far more about.  Too often, there’s only a debate of whether or not people deserve a second chance.  We hear arguments like, “It’s a kid, so there are no second chances,” or “This is America, I think that a guy does deserve another shot.”  Both of those points are legitimate, but they leave out the aspect of the guy actually doing what he needs to do so that he can get another crack at the only way of making a living that he’s ever known.

If and only if Adrian Peterson goes through serious counseling, shows real remorse for his actions, guarantees that he won’t do such a thing again, actually follows through on that guarantee, AND becomes a spokesman against child abuse and against physical punishment of children in general, then he should be able to return in 2015.  A full season’s worth of a suspension is fair, especially because he hasn’t shown much remorse for his actions, as Goodell said.  But once he does, and once he starts to speak out against what he did, then he should be allowed back.

The obvious, and correct, comparison here is Michael Vick.  While Vick did actually serve his due time in prison, which is an important distinction because the federal government is far more competent in terms of punishment than the state of Texas, Vick came back from his prison sentence and immediately became one of the most prominent animal rights spokesmen.  He’d go back to neighborhoods like the one he grew up in, talked to the same kinds of kids who also viewed the men who were involved in dogfighting as role models like he did, and told htem all just how wrong he was and just how much remorse he had for what he had done.  That’s the key, and that’s what Adrian Peterson needs to do.

So, for right now, All Day hasn’t done nearly enough to earn his spot back on the Vikings.  Not even close, because he’s gotta truly realize, and then help others realize, just how wrong he was.  That kind of message is the one that both AP and the NFL want out there: You can have a second chance, but your past will never disappear.  Do everything you can to atone for your mistakes, and show everyone that they can come back from mistakes.  THEN you’ll earn your spot back.  But you’re not either denied or given a second chance, you have to earn it.

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