Adrian Peterson said he still occasionally uses a switch, as well as a belt, to discipline his son, in comments published Wednesday by Bleacher Report. The Redskins running back was made inactive for almost the entire 2014 season, when he was with the Vikings, amid a scandal over his treatment of his son, then four years old, that resulted in abuse charges.
According to Master Tesfatsion, Peterson “generally avoids” using switches these days, and he quoted the 33-year-old back as saying that he eschews such punishment “nine times out of 10.”
Following the Redskins' loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday, Peterson declined to comment on the article, a day after his agent released a statement saying that Peterson’s trust “was violated” by the interview.
Peterson was indicted in September 2014 on felony child-abuse charges related to his use of a wooden switch on his son, and court records showed that the boy suffered cuts and bruising to his back, thighs and on one of his testicles. “I truly regret this incident,” Peterson said at the time, claiming that he loved his son and was trying to employ the same methods of discipline that he felt helped mold him effectively as he grew up in East Texas.
Peterson told The Washington Post’s Les Carpenter in October that it “sucks” to know he’s still labeled by some as a child abuser, but he claimed, “I’m comfortable knowing that every time I go home, my boys run up to me and hug me and say, ‘Hi, Dad.’ And every time they want something, they know who to come to. They know who’s going to be, ‘Yes!’ All my kids know that.”
“Just the face value [of the news reports] made people just go: ‘How can you do this? You should go to jail,’ ” he added. “They didn’t know that when I spanked him he didn’t move one muscle or drop one tear the entire time I was spanking him.”
In November of 2014, the legal case was settled when the running back pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of reckless assault, and he was put on a two-year probation, fined $4,000 and ordered to perform 80 hours of community service. He had been taken off the field since Week 1 and placed on the commissioner’s exempt list, and he was subsequently suspended without pay for the final six games of that season, with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell saying in a letter to Peterson, “You have shown no meaningful remorse for your conduct.”
“When indicted,” Goodell continued in the letter, “you acknowledged what you did but said that you would not ‘eliminate whooping my kids’ and defended your conduct in numerous published text messages to the child’s mother. You also said that you felt ‘very confident with my actions because I know my intent.’ These comments raise the serious concern that you do not fully appreciate the seriousness of your conduct, or even worse, that you may feel free to engage in similar conduct in the future.”
Peterson was reinstated in April 2015, presumably having met conditions laid out by Goodell’s letter, which included Peterson committing to “counseling and rehabilitative effort, properly care for your children, and have no further violations of law or league policy.”
In the Bleacher Report story, which places Peterson’s career revival this season for Washington in the context of the 2014 scandal that shaped his image for many people, it is noted that he said to USA Today after his plea agreement, “I won’t ever use a switch again.” Peterson told Tesfatsion, “I understood that, hey, it was a mistake. It’s something that I’ve regretted. It wasn’t my intentions to do that. But it happened.”
However, the seven-time Pro Bowler also admitted that while he now disciplines his children in a variety of ways, including putting them in timeouts and taking away their electronics, he continues to employ corporal punishment.
“I had to discipline my son and spank him the other day with a belt,” he told Tesfatsion.
“There’s different ways I discipline my kids,” Peterson added. “I didn’t let that change me.”
In response to the Bleacher Report story, Peterson’s agent, Ron Slavin, issued a statement (via NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport) in which he claimed that “Adrian’s trust with this reporter was violated when he discussed what happened four years ago.”
Saying that “Bleacher Report approached the Washington Redskins and Adrian about doing a story about his resurgence on the field and his leadership in the locker room,” Slavin asserted, “Adrian learned several valuable lessons four years ago, thanks in part to his suspension and counseling he underwent during and afterward. This writer attempted to focus on four years ago rather than who Adrian is now as a father.”
As of this writing, neither Tesfatsion nor the NFL could be reached by The Post for comment. Peterson, who is seventh in the NFL this season with 723 rushing yards and tied for eighth with six rushing touchdowns, is set to play on Thanksgiving as his Redskins visit the Cowboys.
Staff reporter Kareem Copeland contributed from Arlington, Texas.
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