I'll admit I was stunned by the news that Minnesota Vikings' star RB Adrian Peterson would be allowed to play this Sunday in light of charges of reckless/negligent injury of his 4-year old son. Since the NFL Commissioner's office has not doled out any punishment, the ball was essentially in the Vikings' court on how to proceed in the short term.
Here was the statement released by owners Mark and Zygi Wilf:
Today’s decision was made after significant thought, discussion and consideration. As evidenced by our decision to deactivate Adrian from yesterday’s game, this is clearly a very important issue. On Friday, we felt it was in the best interests of the organization to step back, evaluate the situation, and not rush to judgment given the seriousness of this matter. At that time, we made the decision that we felt was best for the Vikings and all parties involved.I am compiling this post little more than an hour after the Wilf's statement, so I'm still processing the repercussions of this.
To be clear, we take very seriously any matter that involves the welfare of a child. At this time, however, we believe this is a matter of due process and we should allow the legal system to proceed so we can come to the most effective conclusions and then determine the appropriate course of action. This is a difficult path to navigate, and our focus is on doing the right thing. Currently we believe we are at a juncture where the most appropriate next step is to allow the judicial process to move forward.
We will continue to monitor the situation closely and support Adrian’s fulfillment of his legal responsibilities throughout this process.
A few initial thoughts:
- I couldn't help but be struck by the excerpt indicating the Vikings brass believes "this is a matter of due process and we should allow the legal system to proceed so we can come to the most effective conclusions and then determine the appropriate course of action." Sure, that's a perfectly rational and common sense policy. However, the Vikings have been woefully inconsistent on this philosophy in recent history.
In 2011, then rookie DB Chris Cook was charged with battering his girlfriend. Now, did the Vikings allow the "legal system to proceed" as opposed to immediately releasing Cook? Yes. However, Cook was essentially deactivated the remaining two months of the 2011 season. He wasn't even allowed at the Vikings' facility. Cook was eventually acquitted in a trial and returned to the Vikings as an active player in 2012.
How about last year when DB AJ Jefferson was charged with domestic assault? Jefferson was released by the team literally within hours of his arrest. So much for letting due process play out.
My point is clear: there's no question the caliber of player is a substantial factor in how team punishment is meted out.
- From a pure football standpoint, the Vikings may want to see if Peterson has anything left. Since he is slated to make at least $14 million per season from 2015-17, the Vikes could cut ties with Peterson after this season (he turns 30 in March) with little salary cap implications. Therefore, they'd have all that salary cap room to upgrade the roster next year. Or maybe it's the Vikings' intention to cut ties after this season regardless, but they just want to squeeze one more year out of Peterson.
- Say, now would be an opportune time to reduce the three-game suspension of Special Teams coach Mike Priefer, thus allowing him to return to the team this week. That potential sideshow would certainly get lost in the shuffle of the Peterson saga, eh?