More information is surfacing of the discipline endured by Minnesota Vikings star running back Adrian Peterson as a child. Peterson’s high school coach Booker Bowie revealed he would hit Peterson up to three times with an 18-inch-long, wooden paddle in order to discipline him. Bowie called his actions, “tough love,” and asserted that Peterson never cried or reported the beatings to his parents, only saying, “Coach, thank you.”
Peterson, 29, has been indicted for allegedly beating his four-year-old son with a switch, incurring wounds on the boy. The boy visited Peterson in Texas in May. The Vikings initially deactivated Peterson and then activated him after Sunday’s loss to the Patriots. The team then reversed itself in the first hour of Wednesday, banning him from all team activities until the courts settle the matter.
That reversal was triggered by politicians and top NFL corporate sponsors such as Anheuser-Busch, Visa and McDonald’s, all of whom were upset with the team’s decision to let Peterson play. In addition, rumors surfaced that Peterson had abused another four-year-old son. The 2012 MVP has numerous illegitimate children.
Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton stated:
It is an awful situation. Yes, Mr. Peterson is entitled to due process and should be “innocent until proven guilty”. However, he is a public figure; and his actions, as described, are a public embarrassment to the Vikings organization and the State of Minnesota. Whipping a child to the extent of visible wounds, as has been alleged, should not be tolerated in our state. Therefore, I believe the team should suspend Mr. Peterson, until the accusations of child abuse have been resolved by the criminal justice system.
Coach Bowie differed, saying Peterson had “suffered enough” and should be allowed to move on. He said of Peterson:
Adrian understands corporal punishment…it’s not intended to hurt anybody, it’s to get them going in the right direction. I have never had a problem with parents calling anyone complaining. The way Adrian came up, his parents, his mother was disciplining him. He understands it, it helped his team mates, his classmates.
I think that’s what he was doing [to his son]. His intention was not to abuse the kid. He understands corporal punishment and I don’t think his intention was to abuse the kid. We all sometimes make mistakes, not intentionally. He just needs to move on from it. I think he’s suffered enough. I think he’s learned from this.
Peterson was severely abused by his father, according to USA Today, which reported that his father Nelson beat him. Peterson’s childhood friend David Cummings, 29, said Nelson Peterson beat his son with a belt in the car park at Palestine Middle School because he had been disruptive in class. Cummings said, “We still talk about it to this day. My dad was tough, but his dad was real tough.”
Peterson’s uncles Larry and Greg Peterson attested that Nelson Peterson used to beat Adrian with a tree branch. When he was alerted that his son might have attention deficit disorder, Nelson Peterson said, “It’s not something that a little whipping can’t take care of.”
Phyllis Peterson, Adrian’s stepmother, said, “I think every parent has the right to discipline their child. He (Nelson) wouldn’t intentionally harm his child. He loves his children.”
Bonita Jackson, 50, Peterson’s mother, told the Houston Chronicle:
I don’t care what anybody says. Most of us disciplined our kids a little more than we meant sometimes. But we were only trying to prepare them for the real world. When you whip those you love, it’s not about abuse, but love. You want to make them understand that they did wrong.
My son is not a perfect man by no means, but in the end I’m proud to be his mom. For the most part he is trying hard to be a good parent, he’s working at it. People are judging him, but they don’t know his heart. This was never his intent. At the end of the day, we want to protect our children. It happened and so now we as a family need to work things out and move forward.
Peterson released a statement, saying:
My attorney has asked me not to discuss the facts of my pending case. I hope you can respect that request and help me honor it. I very much want the public to hear from me but I understand that it is not appropriate to talk about the facts in detail at this time. Nevertheless, I want everyone to understand how sorry I feel about the hurt I have brought to my child.
I never wanted to be a distraction to the Vikings organization, the Minnesota community or to my teammates. I never imagined being in a position where the world is judging my parenting skills or calling me a child abuser because of the discipline I administered to my son.
I voluntarily appeared before the grand jury several weeks ago to answer any and all questions they had. Before my grand jury appearance, I was interviewed by two different police agencies without an attorney. In each of these interviews I have said the same thing, and that is that I never ever intended to harm my son. I will say the same thing once I have my day in court.
I have to live with the fact that when I disciplined my son the way I was disciplined as a child, I caused an injury that I never intended or thought would happen. I know that many people disagree with the way I disciplined my child. I also understand after meeting with a psychologist that there are other alternative ways of disciplining a child that may be more appropriate.
I have learned a lot and have had to reevaluate how I discipline my son going forward. But deep in my heart I have always believed I could have been one of those kids that was lost in the streets without the discipline instilled in me by my parents and other relatives. I have always believed that the way my parents disciplined me has a great deal to do with the success I have enjoyed as a man. I love my son and I will continue to become a better parent and learn from any mistakes I ever make.
I am not a perfect son. I am not a perfect husband. I am not a perfect parent, but I am, without a doubt, not a child abuser. I am someone that disciplined his child and did not intend to cause him any injury. No one can understand the hurt that I feel for my son and for the harm I caused him. My goal is always to teach my son right from wrong and that’s what I tried to do that day.
I accept the fact that people feel very strongly about this issue and what they think about my conduct. Regardless of what others think, however, I love my son very much and I will continue to try to become a better father and person.
Peterson faces an October 8 court date.