NFL: Oops, I did it again…

Stacey asked me to write a story about the legal issues involved in the Adrian Peterson and Ray Rice debacles in the NFL. And, frankly, I was not real enthused about that because nothing polarizes people more than hitting a child or girl and, frankly, based on what I have seen published by the mainstream media, both of these incidents looked like the accused offenders crossed the line. Unfortunately, my Prime Directive, “I wasn’t there and didn’t actually see what happened, so, I’m not entitled to an opinion,” reared its ugly head and I (like most of us) have reserved comment until a jury or full investigation has been completed.

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By PAT MERRIMAN 

For the DC Herald

Stacey asked me to write a story about the legal issues involved in the Adrian Peterson and Ray Rice debacles in the NFL. And, frankly, I was not real enthused about that because nothing polarizes people more than hitting a child or girl and, frankly, based on what I have seen published by the mainstream media, both of these incidents looked like the accused offenders crossed the line. Unfortunately, my Prime Directive, “I wasn’t there and didn’t actually see what happened, so, I’m not entitled to an opinion,” reared its ugly head and I (like most of us) have reserved comment until a jury or full investigation has been completed.

I don’t like trying cases in the court of public opinion and, I also know that Adrian Peterson has had enough grief in his young life with the death of his 2-year old son last year in Sioux Falls, South Dakota—the alleged victim of child abuse at the hands of the biological mother’s 27-year-old, live-in paramour, Robert Patterson. The toddler died from massive head trauma sustained, allegedly, as a result of a beating from the boyfriend—on probation for a prior domestic violence incident. So, seeing no media coverage on this fact, I was going to be a bit patient on deciding whether/not my favorite sport needed to take another black eye from the talking heads. But, then, I have been reading quotes that really caused me pause. It suddenly dawned on me why people calling for their heads are wrong about their take on the situation. And, at first, I thought I ought to feel guilty about still being an NFL football fan, but I really don’t and I’m in good company with other NFL fans.

First, the problem with all of the other front-page media frenzy is, well, they’re just… wrong. Arguments that work is a privilege is a just too simplistic and short-sighted in it’s bald assertion, i.e., that we should be grateful we have a high-paying job or else. Nice Puritanical view because it focuses solely on the individual player’s responsibility for his actions and ignores the rest of the people who actually suffer if the worker gets fired. Follow the logic here, not the emotion. Why are we working if we are Ray Rice or Adrian Peterson? To maximize earnings to do what we do best. And, just because a critic doesn’t like pro football does not change the fact that there are only 1,696 players in the NFL at any given time (52 players x 32 teams) and, face it, these guys are the best in the world at what they do. Something the rest of us mere armchair quarterbacks need to understand before we throw around the, “he’s a millionaire playing a child’s sport,” paintbrush. The statistic is that 1 in 100,000 people make it to the pros and earn a living playing professional sports that’s, let’s see, 0.001 percent of us make it to the pros. So, these guys in the NFL are rare and special.

Unfortunately, by “kicking these animals out of the NFL,” we also kick out their wives, children, parents and other loved ones who depend on them for support. Sort of cutting off the nose to spite the face isn’t it. Because a real man doesn’t just not hit children or women, he also works to support his loved ones too doesn’t he? In addition, what about the team that is being punished. Are the Vikings and the Ravens the same team without their star players? Or, are their teammates, owners and fans also being punished by this pariah label that we want to lay on them in the same genre as the Scarlet Letter. Again, before all the facts are in, or, a jury has spoken. Because, at the end of the day, are the teams and the league better off for all the histrionics over two alleged criminal acts, albeit unproven in a court of law, which have yet to have a “full and fair” hearing in a real court not in the court of public opinion where spin rules.

And, second, remember something, before we get out the torches and pitchforks, in particular, Ray Rice’s domestic violence allegation is not even an isolated incident in the NFL. In fact, Ray McDonald and Chris Cook of the San Francsico 49ers, Tony McDaniel and Kevin Williams of the Seattle Seahawks, Brandon Marshall and Santonio Holmes of the Chicago Bears, Greg Hardy of the Carolina Panthers, Dez Bryant of the Dallas Cowboys, Erik Walden of the Indianapolis Colts, Donte Whitner of the Cleveland Browns, Randy Starks of the Miami Dolphins and Frostee Rucker of the Arizona Cardinals have all been arrested too for domestic violence, or related charges since 2005, and they are still playing in the league!

What about the NFL’s selective prosecution of Rice? That’s an absolute defense in a criminal case too. Everyone is supposed to be treated equally. Well, what are you trying to say, Merriman? You support domestic violence? Ah, the unreasonable and absurd attributed to someone who wants to use logic and common sense instead of emotion to analyze a problem.

What I’m saying, folks, is that, third, there is a collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and the NFLPA and, frankly, unless a team (like the weak kneed Vikings management) wants to pander to the twisted undies bunch and pay a player to sit and do nothing, a player is entitled to a paycheck.

Calling Adrian Peterson’s 4-year-old’s injuries scars from “being beaten with a switch” cause me some real problems, folks. Ummm, what “scars” are depicted in those photos exactly? Ignoring the obvious sympathetic overtones of the photos, “scarring” is a permanent condition and to inflate the language to justify one’s argument is not really fair. Let’s focus on the facts, not the hype!

Despite outcry from the intellectuals, public support for physical discipline is still relatively high (around 80 percent). Indeed, a growing number of parents that were never spanked themselves are beginning to spank their children because they have had enough sass and backtalk and, agree that teachers should also have the right to inflict corporal punishment at school too. Regardless, for decades, spanking opponents have been influencing government officials around the world to abolish spanking gradually by starting with a ban in schools and institutions, and then to whittle away its scope in the home by intimidation through social service interference.

There are actually talking heads in the media talking like the NFL (a corporation) actually has some quasi-criminal power to punish or impose its interpretation of morality like a sovereign nation. You see this nonsense more and more today. My favorite story was about five years ago when I tried to buy four cans of spray paint at Wal-Mart to camouflage my old rifle. When I got to the counter, a self-appointed checkout goddess tried to tell me that Missouri law prohibited purchasing more than 3 cans at one time. Say what? When I explained that I was a prosecutor and, there was no such law, a condescending store manager was forced to admit that it was Wal-Mart’s policy to try and stem the illegal “hacking” of paint by the village idiots who sniff paint and glue to get high. She solemnly intoned, “I’m sure you want to help keep kids off drug.” To which I replied, profanely, that they could take their policy and perform a physically painful act because my policy was that I need four cans and if Wal-Mart wouldn’t sell it to me, I would go across the street and buy it. I don’t need Big Mama to take care of me!

But, Fox News just reported that 90 percent of NFL fans don’t give a crap about the Ray Rice’s and Adrian Peterson’s effect on the NFL’s image or, the nonsense that we should boycott pro football because “we have to be ‘more responsible’ in what we watch and what we buy.”

Hey, NFL, keep your nose out of these two cases and let the criminal justice process run its course. Besides, isn’t there some other politically correct mess you could be sticking your nose into, pontificating, apologizing, and then reversing course on? Just quote me as “Yes, I’m ready for some football!”


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