Adrian Peterson is enjoying a renaissance year with the Washington Redskins, on pace for his first 1,000-yard season since 2015.
In a new profile on Bleacher Report by Master Tesfatsion, Peterson discusses his ever-present obsession with greatness, but also addresses his complicated past and admits to still doing the very thing that cost him a season of his career.
‘Nine times out of 10, that’s not the case’
In 2014, Peterson missed essentially the entire season when he was indicted on charges of reckless or negligent injury to a child. He had used a switch — a long, thin, flexible branch used in corporal punishment — to discipline one of his sons, who was 4 at the time.
The boy suffered cuts and bruises to his legs, buttocks and even scrotum. A Minnesota doctor saw the marks and reported them to authorities. However, since the incident had occurred in Peterson’s native Texas, the situation fell under the jurisdiction of Montgomery County in that state.
The Minnesota Vikings deactivated Peterson for a game, but after public outcry, he was placed on the Commissioner’s Exempt list, which is basically paid suspension.
Though Peterson pleaded no contest to reduce the felony to a misdemeanor and received a $4,000 fine and 80 hours of community service as retribution, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell kept him on the exempt list, and in November of that year suspended him for six games without pay.
“You have shown no meaningful remorse for your conduct,” Goodell wrote in a letter to Peterson. The running back said he was “blindsided” by the decision.
But four years later, Peterson admitted to Tesfatsion that when other methods — like taking away electronics, putting them in timeout, or having them do wall squats — don’t work, he still uses a belt to punish his children, and at time uses a switch, which he once said he would stop using.
Though Peterson said, “Nine times out of 10, that’s not the case.”
‘I didn’t let that change me’
Peterson said he understood that what he did to his young son then was “a mistake,” but he does not believe he abuses his children. “It wasn’t my intention to do that,” he said of the cuts and bruises that he caused. “But it happened.”
His situation touched off a discussion on corporal punishment, and highlighted the cultural differences in beliefs about spanking. An ABC News poll published earlier this month showed that overall, 65 percent of Americans approve of spanking children in the home; only 26 percent believe grade school teachers should be allowed to do it in schools.
“There’s different ways I discipline my kids,” Peterson said. “I didn’t let that [2014 case] change me.”
Peterson reasons that he was disciplined with belts and switches, and it helped him become the man he is today.
“My kids love me,” he said of his six children. “When they want something, they come ask dad. They enjoy being around me.”
Peterson’s agent speaks out
Peterson’s agent, Ron Slavin, released a statement about the story on Wednesday night, and claimed that Peterson’s “trust with this reporter was violated.”
“There is nothing more important to Ardian Peterson than being a good father to his children,” Slavin said in a statement, via the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. “Bleacher Report approached the Washington Redskins and Adrian about doing a story about his resurgence on the field and his leadership in the locker room. Adrian’s trust with this reporter was violated when he discussed what happened four years ago.
“Adrian learned several valuable lessons four years ago, thanks in part to his suspension and counseling he underwent during and afterward. The writer attempted to focus on four years ago rather than who Adrian is now as a father.
“Since signing with the Redskins he has been an outstanding teammate and leader both on and off the field. Neither Adrian or myself will make any further comment on this article. His focus remains on leading the Redskins to the playoffs.”
More carries may be coming after Alex Smith injury
Washington lost quarterback Alex Smith for the season last Sunday, after the tibia and fibula in his right leg were broken on a sack.
With Colt McCoy now the quarterback, Peterson may get even more carries. Currently, he has 723 yards in 10 games; only four running backs in NFL history have recorded 1,000 or more rushing yards in a season past their 33rd birthday.
His spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame is likely already assured, but Peterson sounded incredulous when talking about still playing now.
“What other reason are you doing it? That’s the kind of approach I’ve always had,” he said. “If you’re not trying to be the best at what you do in your profession—sewing, painting, a doctor—then why are you doing it? You want to be average? Just go through the motions and be OK?”