How Adrian Peterson's Reinstatement Will Only Perpetuate More Abuse

by Macie Berlin

It seems clear, based on Adrian Peterson’s report after meeting with Vikings coach Mike Zimmer and GM Rick Spielman yesterday, the power resides in the star runningback’s hands.

He was quoted saying,

We had a great dialogue and they were able to understand where I was coming from and concerns my family and I still have.

“Still” is the operative word that hints toward a lack of comfort in returning to the Minnesota team.

AP has become synonymous with the best RB in the game; to lose him in a franchise is obviously worth a home visit to try and smooth things over after Peterson’s legal battles this last year.

But, does this power he holds -- the power of drooling managers and coaches seemingly putting every effort into keeping him on their roster -- a brilliant business decision? Or, is it a practice that perpetuates misused power among our sports heroes?

Without Ray Rice’s grueling, viral display of domestic violence, would AP have faced a little bit more scrutiny from the media? Or, would his punishment have been lessened?

While his felony child abuse charges were dropped, the star pled guilty to misdemeanor reckless assault. Even after this plea, he was still suspended by the league. And, now, he’s upset.

He feels as if the Vikings “big dogs” went along or teamed up with the league in order to keep him from returning, and that just isn’t fair for this athletic powerhouse.

So, Peterson is taking the power back. He’s not showing his cards and no one wants to call his bluff. His power is almost scary. Is that the same scary power locking up our athletes for reckless assault, domestic violence and animal cruelty?

I boldly say it is. Despite being locked out of a league and being held accountable for actions, players still come back negotiating their own salaries, teams and starting spots.

The power does not change hands, even after punishment is enforced. Why? Because that punishment is temporary. We watch the Michael Vicks, Kobe Bryants and Mike Tysons continue to grace our television screens.

I certainly do not believe the athletes’ characters should be based solely on misdemeanors or poor decisions; we are all human, I know we make mistakes.

Who pays for them, though? A year out of the sport? Six months? A public apology? Is a temporary suspension enough to show the disapproval and nonacceptance of such acts?

What about our young athletes on the fields, courts and arenas who yearn for this power and wear the invincibility of being indestructible by law and ruling if they are athletic to the point of worth? Do they become the next abusive pet owner, husband or father?

I don’t blame AP for flexing his muscles and making demands; he is a product of the professional sports world that forgives subjectively.

Arguably, Peterson does his job better than any other player in his position in the NFL, and for this, he holds the power. And, he knows it.

But, what about the women and children and animals who fall victim to this?

Second and third and fourth chances exist for those who are of a rare breed. We continue our toxic relationships of needing something from them enough that we allow them to carry on as they see fit, without voicing what it is we need.

It isn’t about AP’s individual crime; it’s about the sports teams that continue to allow athletes to sit in time out and come back holding the same, if not more, power.

Without learning that this power causes a longevity of hurt and accountability, how can we expect the abuse, cruelty and assault to cease?

I want our stars to perform and entertain as much as the next sports fan, but perhaps, it’s time to ask what’s at stake for that to take place when it comes to our cuffed athletes.

Who’s paying the price for the get-out-of-jail-free cards?

We’re not reinstating our athletes into leagues; we’re reiterating that we are powerless in the relationships with these players.

That’s a dangerous place to be.