The NFL has a problem. They seem to be completely unable to have consistency in how they punish players who commit crimes while employed by the league. After the entire Ray Rice domestic abuse scandal just over a week ago, the NFL had to think that the worst was behind them but then came the story, bubbling under the surface for months, that Adrian Peterson (Minnesota Vikings running back) had beaten his four year-old son in the Houston area.
We know that the Minnesota Vikings knew about this months before it became public on Friday. We know that the Vikings have disciplined offenders in the past and have done so rather swiftly by cutting them from the team without batting an eye. But this is Adrian Peterson. He is arguably the face of the Minnesota Vikings and is one of the biggest stars in the entire NFL.
There in lies their conundrum. How does the NFL and the Minnesota Vikings discipline one of their greatest stars and best players? Obviously, the Minnesota Vikings waffle on their stance and take a wait-and-see approach rather than doing the right thing in making a quick decision as they have done in the past and sever ties before the shit hits the fan.
But the Minnesota Vikings did let the shit hit the fan with the child abuse allegations surrounding Adrian Peterson. They deactivated Peterson for the team's week two game versus the New England Patriots but reactivated him for the week three game against the New Orleans Saints. But in the wee hours of this morning, the Minnesota Vikings placed Adrian Peterson on some bullshit exempt list where he exists without being activated or deactivated.
Adrian Peterson is truly a player in limbo when, if the Minnesota Vikings followed the precedent they had set with prior cases of abuse or law breaking, he would have had his contract terminated and been shown the door. Instead, the Minnesota Vikings come off looking like they are not just willing to but totally fine with looking the other way when a millionaire who plays a child's game beats one of his many children for something extremely trivial because "that's how he was raised".
The NFL comes into the third week of the 2014 season with a black eye. They are a league with a very clear discipline problem and a very pervasive history of sweeping misbehavior under the rug and looking the other way when their stars commit crimes. They are willing to defend their superstars when the commit crimes which would land average citizens in jail for at least a brief stint. The NFL, like the NBA, is full of spoiled man-children whose inappropriate behavior is overlooked in favor of sponsorship deals and television ratings.
The fans, the sponsors and the owners are all to blame just as much as the players.
It's time for the NFL to lay down the law and have some consistent guidelines for punishment - especially when it comes to spousal and child abuse.