On Monday, Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman explained his team's stance in the reinstatement of running back Adrian Peterson, who had been deactivated the previous Friday following Peterson's indictment by a Texas grand jury after he beat his four-year-old son with a switch. According to the charges, the child suffered cuts and bruises to his back, buttocks, legs, hands and scrotum. Peterson allegedly texted his son's mother about the incident.
According to SI.com legal expert Michael McCann, Peterson's son accused his father of "hitting him in the face and forcing him to bite on tree leaves while being 'whooped' with his pants down. The son also asserted that Peterson threatened to hurt him further if he told the police about what happened."
The Vikings sat Peterson for their 30-7 loss to the New England Patriots on Sunday, but then decided to use the ever-popular "due process" argument in reinstating the star player, who won the 2012 NFL Most Valuable Player award.
Now, if this new report is true, the Vikings may have a more complicated picture to process. According to KHOU 11 News in Houston, Peterson is being investigated for another abuse allegation involving another one of his sons. According to the report, Peterson hit the child last June, leaving a scar on the child's forehead. The station obtained text messages between Peterson and the boy's mother in which Peterson explained what happened -- the child had used an epithet against his brother. Reports indicate that Peterson first said that the child hit his head on a car seat, but changed his story when questioned by the child's mother.
However, A TMZ report indicated that the case went nowhere before, the child hit his head on the car seat while Peterson was punishing him.
But in the context of the KHOU News report, the comments from Spielman on Monday look even worse -- and they were hard to stomach to begin with.
"This is a very important issue," Spielman said to open his press conference. "I want to take time to emphasize that the issue of child welfare is extremely serious and should be taken serious, not only by us but by everybody. We are trying to do the right thing. This is a difficult path to navigate regarding the judgment of how a parent disciplines his child. Based on the extensive information that we have right now and what we know about Adrian not only as a person but what he has also done for this community, we believe he deserves to play while the legal process plays out. At the same time, we must defer to the legal system to determine whether he went too far, but we cannot make that judgment. Adrian will be active for this weekend’s game but we will continue to monitor the situation and make the decision we feel is best for this organization and all parties going forward."
When asked by the media what message he thought he and the Vikings were sending to abuse victims by letting Peterson play while this process plays out, Spielman said, "I understand that this is a very difficult thing to handle. But we also feel strongly as an organization that this is disciplining a child. Whether it’s an abusive situation or not, or whether he went too far disciplining, we feel very strongly that that is the court’s decision to make, but we also understand the seriousness of abusing children as well."
However, when cornerback Chris Cook was accused of choking his girlfriend in Oct., 2011, the Vikings suspended him indefinitely without pay. Cook missed 10 games and was eventually acquitted. Spielman was asked about that, as well.
"Those were all different situations," he responded. "Based on the facts that we are able to gather, we make those determinations as an organization based on individual situations that have arose. I cannot go into detail on the facts and all of the information we gather but once we gather all of the information we can, that’s when we make our determination and base our decision."
Head coach Mike Zimmer referred to Spielman's statements when asked about Peterson's situation.
On Monday, Peterson also issued a statement of his own, saying that he "never wanted to be a distraction to the Vikings organization, the Minnesota community or to my teammates. I never imagined being in a position where the world is judging my parenting skills or calling me a child abuser because of the discipline I administered to my son.
"I have to live with the fact that when I disciplined my son the way I was disciplined as a child, I caused an injury that I never intended or thought would happen. I know that many people disagree with the way I disciplined my child. I also understand after meeting with a psychologist that there are other alternative ways of disciplining a child that may be more appropriate."
Peterson said that without the discipline he received, he could have been "one of those kids that was lost in the streets," and he reiterated his love for his son.
"I am not a perfect son," Peterson concluded. "I am not a perfect husband. I am not a perfect parent, but I am, without a doubt, not a child abuser. I am someone that disciplined his child and did not intend to cause him any injury. No one can understand the hurt that I feel for my son and for the harm I caused him. My goal is always to teach my son right from wrong and that's what I tried to do that day.
"I accept the fact that people feel very strongly about this issue and what they think about my conduct. Regardless of what others think, however, I love my son very much and I will continue to try to become a better father and person."