Peterson, Rice and the NFL

The controversies continue




The media focus on the NFL’s Adrian Peterson and Ray Rice hide ideologies for bashing the NFL and its wealthy Black males. Let’s be clear about four things. I don’t condone:

1. Any kind of abuse, physical or oral, spousal or child.

2. Whites getting preferential treatment over Blacks in prison/no prison options.

3. Choosing retribution/prison first when restorative second chances are possible.

4. Rushing to dismiss “due process” and “innocent until proven guilty” and unwarranted imprisoning of fathers as abusers of their children.


Ignored facts: 

NFL players are half as likely to commit domestic violence as men in their 20s in the general population, according to a study published in USA Today.

“Gender symmetry” exists: Men strike the first blow in 27 percent of the cases, women strike first in 24 percent of the cases, with violence a mutual brawl the remainder of the time.

Anti-abuse programs work. Thousands of men arrested for intimate-partner abuse have learned to become nonviolent. After four years (if they complete their programs), 90 percent are successful, with 85 percent of the women saying “they now felt very safe.” The success is because the men “desire to save their relationship.”

Former baseball commissioner Fay Vincent wrote two weeks ago that to punish once and then attempt to punish again smacks of double jeopardy (the guarantee against being “twice put in jeopardy” is a constitutional right).

Skin color in Minnesota is often the criteria for who is or is not picked for prosecution (see my 2002 book The Minneapolis Story). In chapter 15 (“The Story of Punting the Minnesota Vikings…”), I suggest that the White power structure is uncomfortable with highly paid and visible Black men in town, living in their neighborhoods and playing on their golf courses, resulting in their “the Vikings should move” (see my December 2, 2003 “roll call” of those saying so).


Important questions include:

Is the hollow, false ring of Commissioner Goodell’s statements about Ray Rice because Goodell is lying about not having seen the elevator tape seen by practically everyone else in the free world?

How do we develop understandable common definitions for “discipline” and “abuse”?

How do we factor in Charles Barkley’s statements: “We spank kids in the South,” and “I’m from the South. Whipping — we do that all the time”? So what do we do? Jail every parent?

Is the media focus because of conservatives who own teams and/or because the NFL is a stepping-stone to wealth and success for Black males?

As Rice and Peterson told the truth and worked it out with the NFL, their teams and their families months ago (four months ago for Peterson, six months ago for Rice), why is this now treated as “new,” with media mobs racing to destroy these two Black families?

With assaults through public policy on Black families, don’t we owe more to Peterson and Rice to allow them to demonstrate they understand the new boundaries of discipline, wanting to be good fathers, or is it more important to abuse their children by imprisoning their fathers and stripping away their means to support their families?

As Adrian Peterson is a good person well loved and respected in his hometown of Palestine, Texas and in Minnesota, how is it that a few minutes in his life are used to define many years of outstanding behavior, as Peterson credits his success in life to his strict discipline as a child (as does Charles Barkley)?

Why is media using this to distract from real problems: racial tensions and injustices and serious threats to national security? Don’t let this draw attention away from how Blacks are unequally treated, especially in the criminal justice system.

Stay tuned.

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