Powers: Peterson case shows lack of leadership in the NFL

By Tom Powers St. Paul Pioneer Press Once again the Wilfs are mistreating their business partners. These are not the same business partners to whom Zygi, Mark and Lenny Wilf -- The Three Racketeers -- were ordered to pay $84 million in damages af...

By Tom Powers

St. Paul Pioneer Press

Once again the Wilfs are mistreating their business partners.

These are not the same business partners to whom Zygi, Mark and Lenny Wilf - The Three Racketeers - were ordered to pay $84 million in damages after a judge ruled they had been defrauded by the Wilfs in a real estate deal.
This time the Wilfs are guilty of failing to adhere to community standards. And it’s the same community that has recently put up an obscene amount of money to fund the Wilfs’ football stadium venture.
Peel back that initial layer of purple-painted, beer-guzzling fanatics, the ones who today are wearing Helga horns and screaming, “All right, Adrian is back!” and there lies a rational, level-headed populace that is appalled by the Wilfs’ decision to allow Adrian Peterson to return to the Minnesota Vikings and take part in next Sunday’s game.
In the end, the Wilfs have left it to the courts to decide if the gashes were too deep, the welts too raised, the bruises too purple. Meanwhile, Adrian Peterson will play. A lot of folks will be fine with that. My guess is that at least as many won’t. Unfortunately, they have no say. In this instance, Minnesotans are silent business partners.
On Monday night, allegations surfaced of a second 4-year-old son who suffered injuries at the hands of Peterson. A Houston TV station reported allegations that the child, “disciplined” for cursing, now sports a permanent scar on his forehead. Peterson’s lawyer claimed the charges are false.
No doubt the Vikings will embark on another fact-finding mission today.
The double standard being applied here is mind-boggling. When defensive back Chris Cook got into a brouhaha with his girlfriend, he was told to stay away from the team for the remaining nine weeks of the season. When cornerback A.J. Jefferson was arrested on a domestic assault charge, he was cut on the spot. After running back Caleb King allegedly beat up someone at a party, he was promptly released. In all these instances the organization did not defer to the courts.
However, none of these players had the athletic ability of an Adrian Peterson, a true NFL star who affects profit margins via his ability to help win football games.
Just a few days ago I wrote glowingly of the Wilfs decision to keep Peterson out of Sunday’s game. It appeared to be an honest attempt on their part to do the right thing. Many who saw the photos of the bruised and battered four-year-old agreed. And remember that those photos, showing scabbed-over welts and abrasions, were taken a week after the lashing. Imagine how terrible they looked at the time of the incident.
Yet as many readers have pointed out, I spoke too soon. Apparently, after gathering evidence, staring at those photos and talking to Peterson, they came to the conclusion: “We’ll leave it to the courts.” Then they had the gall to leave it to general manager Rick Spielman to stand before the national media and take the heat in a Monday press conference. Gutless.
Spielman is a sincere enough fellow who is not a particularly gifted public speaker. By the time he was done taking the arrows, he had conveyed a mixed message: We take harming a child seriously, but we aren’t going to do anything about it. .
Peterson, meanwhile, released his own statement. In it, he sought the best of both worlds. He announced he was unable to talk about the matter because of the legal proceedings – in other words, “don’t ever ask me about it” – then promptly went on to defend himself at length. He showed no remorse except to say he regretted the unintentional injury to his child and he regretted the negative attention cast upon on the Vikings.
Now we are discovering that this may not be an isolated instance. How are decent people supposed to feel about this?
I originally thought that they would sit him for a minimum of six games. They’d likely have to pay him to avoid legal issues, but they could keep him out at their discretion. This type of behavior might fly in Texas or in the South, although I doubt it, but not here. And the Vikings are a private business that relies on - that has taken full advantage of - the goodwill of the public.
I also thought the NFL would have stepped in by now. Again, I was way off base. The NFL is hopelessly without leadership. The only area in which the league it is fully functional is its accounting department.
The Pioneer Press is a media partner with the Forum News Service

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