Adrian Peterson abused his son. Why would the Patriots want to sign him?

I’VE BEEN A Patriots season ticket holder for 13 years. I kept the tickets even after I moved to California, because who would give them up? I can fly back a couple times each year, and the rest of the time, I pass them onto friends. I’ve held those tickets through Spygate and Deflategate and even when the team held its nose occasionally and broke the late Myra Kraft’s clear preference for only signing players of non-dubious character. I overlooked the Trump support (though it was hard) and the Bon Jovi support (possibly harder). But if a line has finally been met, it’s been met at the possible signing of a man who, in 2014, beat his own 4-year-old son with a tree branch.

Consider a couple of key facts in that sentence — 4-year-old and tree branch. Adrian Peterson beat up a preschooler so badly the child had cuts on his thights, hands, and abdomen. He had bruises on his lower back and buttocks. Peterson admitted to the child’s mother that he did feel a tiny bit of remorse, but only because he managed to hit the child in the testicles. He mentioned no remorse over filling the child’s mouth with leaves and then stripping the child’s pants to his ankles prior to administering the beating. Because we all know how important it is, if you’re a 6’ 1”, 220-pound man, to gag and strip a preschooler before you beat him with wood.

Peterson, with his career in jeopardy at the time (but was it ever, really?), ultimately released several statements of contrition. But when the news first broke, before the possible loss of millions of dollars had sunk in, when it was just his own moral barometer speaking his own personal truth, Peterson found a way to play the victim. “People understand,” he posted on social media, “that if you are on God’s course and suppose [sic] to have that position and man decides to remove you know that God will remove everyone to place you rightfully! You matter! It’s your season! Weapons may form but won’t prosper! God has you covered don’t stress or worry!”

Let us put aside the egregious level of megalomania and its correlative overuse of the exclamation mark in those words. Let us forgive Adrian his terrible grammar. And let us solely concentrate on Peterson’s specious belief that his stress and worry clearly trumps that of his child. If he believed otherwise, he would have mentioned the child in that post. But we learn that God’s got Peterson’s back. God only has eyes for Peterson and Peterson only has eyes for God; the child is a third wheel. That child, make no mistake, is in for a lifetime of emotional and psychological distress that will stem from having Peterson as a parental model. This beating (and those we can presume we don’t know about) isn’t something the little boy is going to just get over. It’s not something he’ll elude and leave in his rearview the way his father eludes tackles.

As to Peterson’s aforementioned “statements of contrition,” they’re not quite as contrite as he’d like you to believe. Yes, he learned that beating his son isn’t exactly tough love, so Adrian learned about “timeouts” and “taking snacks away,” but he also learned that he’d “been doing a pretty good job” as a parent except for that whole child abuse thing. Oh, and Peterson’s other kids? They’re well aware of Daddy’s collection of belts and propensity to use them, at least according to his 4-year-old’s statement to police. So, Peterson has evolved to the point he’ll never beat his child with a branch (at least not as long as he’s in the public eye) but also thinks that, otherwise, hey, he was doing a pretty good job. Here’s a news flash:

He’s not. He wasn’t. He didn’t.

If you can beat a child so badly blood runs down his thighs and abdomen, bruises form on his buttocks and back and testicles, and the taste of leaves and dirt stay in his mouth through a long night of pain and isolation as the child cries himself to sleep (or, worse, doesn’t cry at all), and your “remorse” over that incident is isolated to allegedly telling the child you’re sorry, after public outrage, not before, and then indignantly proclaiming how much you love said child and all your children before questioning whether man has the right to take away your God-given right to bloody your own progeny, then you are not doing a “pretty good job” as a parent.

You deserve scorn and public approbation. You don’t deserve a contract. You don’t deserve a Super Bowl ring. You don’t deserve forgiveness. Forgiveness comes only to those who atone for odious behavior. Human beings are, for the most part, big fans of forgiveness and redemption narratives. But redemption only comes from true atonement and true penance. Simply saying, “I apologized to the victim but I’m otherwise a good parent,” is like Michael Vick saying, “I apologized to the dogs but I’m otherwise a solid candidate for PETA President.” Saying sorry without acting from a place of true regret isn’t “sorry,” it’s “whoops.”

So instead of chasing rings or another lucrative contract or an ultimately meaningless rushing record for players over 32, maybe Peterson should retire. And take a parenting course. Read a few books on the subject. Get in touch with whatever rage over his own abused inner child comes out when he aspires to “tear up (the) butt” of one of his children. Michael Vick apologized and sought to make restitution for his crimes. That took character, maturity, a reclaiming of his moral center. Adrian Peterson, thus far, has shown that the only center he believes in is his place at the center of the universe and as the apple of God’s eye.

CHARLIE NEIBERGALL/ASSOCIATED PRESS/FILE 2016


Adrian Peterson leaves Patriots visit without deal

The Patriots' big offseason just took another interesting turn.

Adrian Peterson met with New England on Monday, a source informed of his plans told NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport. It was the veteran running back's second free-agent visit of the offseason, as he met with the Seahawks in mid-March.

However, Good Morning Football's Peter Schrager reported that Peterson left his meeting with the Patriots without a deal.

There is no one quite like Bill Belichick when it comes to zigging when everybody else zags. So who can be surprised that he's taking a chance here when the rest of the market so far has cooled on Peterson following a nightmarish 2016 campaign?

The Patriots have already signed Swiss Army knife Rex Burkhead in free agency to add to their stable of running backs. Peterson would certainly add a more physical dimension to the ground game, something New England is lacking with LeGarrette Blount currently out of the picture.

Belichick has experience taking a gamble on a veteran running back and it paying off. Corey Dillon was acquired from Cincinnati in exchange for a second-round pick in 2004. Dillon, who was 29 years old at the time of the trade, broke out for a career-best season in his debut in Foxborough, rushing for 1,635 yards and 12 scores.

Peterson is 32, and at this point, it's fair to wonder if he would take a potential discounted offer to have an opportunity at a Super Bowl before the gas tank reads "E."


What’s motivating Patriots’ visit with Adrian Peterson?

Running back Adrian Peterson established Hall of Fame-worthy credentials on the field.

Off it, the 32-year-old free agent committed some indefensible acts, and the details of his child abuse charge in 2014 made Patriots president Jonathan Kraft feel “physically uncomfortable.”

So why would the Patriots entertain Peterson during yesterday’s visit to Gillette Stadium?

Short of actually signing Peterson, which the Pats had no intention of doing yesterday, their decision could be explained by a couple of theories.

The first is Bill Belichick’s close relationship with Peterson’s agent, Ben Dogra. Peterson hasn’t drawn much interest in free agency since he visited the Seahawks three weeks ago, so Belichick could be doing Dogra a favor by getting the running back’s name in the news. After all, when the Patriots are involved, they have a knack for turning minutia into a national storyline, so a perceived Patriots-Peterson connection could accelerate interest from other clubs, hoping to prevent the Super Bowl champs from enhancing an offense that already looks unstoppable.

And that leads to the second theory. Peterson underwent surgery for a torn meniscus last season, so it’d be advantageous for the Pats to evaluate his health for scouting purposes. Belichick has the freedom to host any player for a visit, even someone as controversial as Peterson, because he can draw valuable information for future scouting purposes. Patriots owner Robert Kraft respects the strategic element at hand there.

Why? It’s conceivable Peterson could land with the running back-needy Raiders, who were in contention for the AFC’s top seed last season before quarterback Derek Carr’s injury. If that ultimately happens, the Patriots will have a better understanding of Peterson’s chances of becoming a threat next season.

In the event Belichick was genuinely interested in signing Peterson, the Patriots have $25 million in cap space, more than enough money to burn. Peterson would then compete with Dion Lewis, James White, Rex Burkhead and D.J. Foster for playing time.

There’s no denying why Peterson is an intriguing option. He is a former MVP, seven-time Pro Bowler and three-time rushing leader, including 2015 when he led the NFL with 1,485 yards on 327 carries with 11 touchdowns. He ranks 16th in career rushing yards and 10th in rushing scores. Since Peterson entered the league as the Vikings’ first-round pick in 2007, he leads the league with 11,747 yards and 97 touchdowns.

But that might all be moot to Kraft, who would have to give Belichick the OK to sign Peterson. It didn’t get to a point yesterday at which the Pats were ready to offer him a contract.

For more context, the Patriots won’t draft Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon this month because he was arrested for allegedly punching a woman in the head in 2014, and Kraft reiterated his stance against domestic violence last week.

“While I believe in second chances and giving players an opportunity for redemption, I also believe that playing in the NFL is a privilege, not a right,” Kraft told the Herald. “For me, personally, I believe that privilege is lost for men who have a history of abusing women.”

Peterson pleaded guilty to misdemeanor reckless assault of his 4-year-old son in 2014, though he had originally been charged for felony child abuse. He repeatedly struck his son with a tree branch, leaving marks all over his body, according to court records. Peterson then allegedly texted the boy’s mother to inform her of his physical brand of discipline, and future texts insinuated the beating was not a one-time incident.

The Krafts have taken a stern stance against men who abuse women, and Jonathan Kraft clearly had an issue while discussing Peterson’s incident in 2014. But there’s a significant distinction between meeting with a player and signing his checks, so it’s hard to compare other examples — Christian Peter, Ray Rice, Mixon — to the Peterson visit.

As of yesterday, there was little reason to believe Peterson would ever join the Patriots.

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