A perfect public image often can be manufactured, but beneath all the smiles might be something much darker.
In the case of Adrian Peterson, a star running back for the Minnesota Vikings, the darkness has begun to rise to the top. Peterson’s personal life has been splattered all over major media outlets in recent weeks.
On Sept. 12, Peterson was indicted in Montgomery County, Texas, on charges of reckless or negligent injury to a child. The case stemmed from an incident where Peterson disciplined his son by hitting him with a branch known as a switch.
Whether or not you agree with his idea of parenting and discipline, it’s clear Peterson has a different persona than the one conveyed to the country throughout the first seven years of his professional football career.
A stand-out high school football player in Palestine, Texas, Peterson entered his freshman season at Oklahoma with a lot of hype and anticipation. He lived up to it, gaining 1,925 yards on the ground en route to a second-place finish in the Heisman Trophy race in 2004.
Peterson was a sensation coming out of college. His strong handshake became almost as famous as his infectious smile. When he was drafted by Minnesota seventh overall in 2007, he brought a work ethic to the team worthy of his nickname “All Day.”
All the while, Peterson seems to have lived a much different life when away from the field and the cameras.
The running back has fathered six children by six different women, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. The same article said Peterson used a credit card from his charity organization All Day Inc. to fund a “night of drinking, arguing, and sex” that involved a minor and four women.
Peterson’s behavior can only be explained in his upbringing and his quick rise to fame. Under the microscope of national attention, it’s only natural for a young athlete to make mistakes. These mistakes seem unfathomable, but we must not judge all things we cannot understand.
Peterson grew up in a Southern household with strict guidelines. According to the New York Daily News, his father harshly beat him in front of 20 classmates when he was a child.
But Peterson says the discipline helped him become the man he is today. There’s no wonder the Texas native has continued the cycle of abuse, he went through it when he was young, so he believes the method works.
As for his other off-the-field escapades, Peterson is not too different than many young athletes who come into a lot of money and fame at an incredibly young age. He slipped up and made some tough decisions, which he has had to live with.
He was likely too immature to start a nonprofit company and didn’t have the right people in his corner helping him run the organization. He proved his immaturity even more when he used funds from All Day Inc. for irresponsible causes.
This revelation shouldn’t be surprising. ESPN’s “Outside The Lines” reported in March 2013 that athlete charities often lack standards and efficient use of money.
Peterson is just another athlete caught in a ring of lies and scandal. Now he has to live with the entire country knowing his deepest and darkest secrets. He has to live with his personal life being judged on a daily basis.
Peterson’s child abuse trial likely won’t begin before the end of the 2014 season. He would probably like to continue playing for the Vikings, but he could face an NFL ban even if cleared of charges, according to ESPN.
More than 2,000 carries and more than 10,000 yards of production seems like a distant memory at this point. It’s unlikely we’ll ever see the same “All Day” running rampant in an NFL backfield again. And that’s sad.