So now that the Minnesota Vikings have suspended running back Adrian Peterson, all’s right with the NFL?
Peterson, you will recall, is under indictment in Texas for whipping his four-year-old son with a wood switch until the boy was bloody. There are pictures that show what Peterson did...to a four-year-old.
When this case surfaced, the Vikings dithered. Never mind that Peterson admitted he beat his kid. Never mind the pictures. Never mind the indictment. “We must defer to the legal system to determine whether he went too far. But we cannot make that judgment," said a Vikings’ hack.
The Vikings, of course, didn’t have to defer to anyone. Peterson is their employee, albeit a very, very rich and productive employee. They had all the evidence they needed to tell him to get lost.
Maybe it was Minnesota’s governor saying Peterson should be suspended. Or maybe the team’s billionaire owners finally got it through their imperial heads that the sight of Peterson taking the field would actually be off-putting to an awful lot of people, as in, “Hey, there’s the guy that beat his kid!”
In any event, the Vikings stumbled to their senses and put Peterson on ice.
Not a moment too soon: it seems Peterson’s name has come up in yet a second child abuse investigation.
As if Baltimore star Ray Rice slugging his fiancé in an elevator wasn’t bad enough.
Look, people are capable of some pretty heinous stuff. Football players are no exception. But these cases seem to have a hit a collective nerve. Football is supposed to be an escape, yet here we are, knee-deep in the cultural swamp of domestic violence.
What’s going on?
The National Football League has its roots in what we now call the Rust Belt. The first players came from mining and mill towns; the violence of their game was a release from the violence they put up with during the rest of the week. I’m sure all was not sweetness and light when some of these guys came through the front door after a day’s grind.
But then the game was not yet a corporate behemoth and national metaphor.
The NFL is corporate America’s dream date. With its hyper- competition, self-aggrandizing analysis and barely contained violence, pro football is the capitalist fantasy on steroids.
Here is a so-called game that fewer and fewer people actually play. But this hasn’t stopped us from gleefully turning our publicly supported universities into modern gladiatorial schools, while forking over tax dollars for the creation of stadia where many of us can’t afford the price of admission.
As to the team owners, they’re the same One Percenters who would have us believe that regulation is bad, that markets correct themselves, that their judgment is terrific because, well, because they’re rich.
These guys believe domestic violence is a public relations problem. Just like air pollution. Or faulty ignition switches. Or oil spills.
Adrian Peterson’s been suspended. But the real knuckleheads are still in charge.