The NFL suspended Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson for the rest of the season without pay on Tuesday.
Peterson pleaded no contest to misdemeanour reckless assault of a child in early November after being indicted for beating his four-year-old son with a tree branch.
In a statement announcing the decision, the NFL included excerpts of a letter commissioner Roger Goodell sent to Peterson explaining his decision.
Goodell slams Peterson. He says he abused his son and showed no remorse afterward, and threatened to ban him for life if the same thing happened again.
“While an adult may have a number of options when confronted with abuse — to flee, to fight back, or to seek help from law enforcement — none of those options is realistically available to a four-year old child,” he said.
“Moreover,” Goodell wrote, “we are unaware of any effort on your part to acknowledge the seriousness of your conduct and your responsibility to demonstrate a genuine commitment to change.”
Here are the parts of the letter that the NFL made public:
“The timing of your potential reinstatement will be based on the results of the counseling and treatment program set forth in this decision. Under this two-step approach, the precise length of the suspension will depend on your actions. We are prepared to put in place a program that can help you to succeed, but no program can succeed without your genuine and continuing engagement. You must commit yourself to your counseling and rehabilitative effort, properly care for your children, and have no further violations of law or league policy.”
“First, the injury was inflicted on a child who was only four years old. The difference in size and strength between you and the child is significant, and your actions clearly caused physical injury to the child. While an adult may have a number of options when confronted with abuse — to flee, to fight back, or to seek help from law enforcement — none of those options is realistically available to a four-year old child. Further, the injury inflicted on your son includes the emotional and psychological trauma to a young child who suffers criminal physical abuse at the hands of his father.
“Second, the repetitive use of a switch in this instance is the functional equivalent of a weapon, particularly in the hands of someone with the strength of an accomplished professional athlete.
“Third, you have shown no meaningful remorse for your conduct. When indicted, 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.”
“Your plea agreement in Texas, and the related violation of the Personal Conduct Policy, arise out of abusive injuries that you inflicted on your son earlier this year. Based on public reports of your statements and photographs that were made public at the time of the indictment, you used a ‘switch’ — a flexible tree branch — to punish your son, striking him in the ankles, limbs, back, buttocks, and genitals, leaving visible swelling, marks, and cuts on his body and risking severe and long-term damage. The visible injuries were such that a local pediatrician in Minnesota, upon examining your son, felt obligated to make a child abuse report to the police. According to contemporaneous media reports, police and medical examiners termed the cuts as ‘extensive’ and as ‘clinically diagnostic of child physical abuse.’ Based on the severity of those injuries, a grand jury made up of citizens of Montgomery County, Texas, voted to indict you on a felony charge, reflecting their belief that there was reasonable cause to conclude that you had overstepped the bounds of acceptable corporal punishment and engaged in physical abuse of your child. Moreover, it appears that this is not the first time that you have punished children in this way. Public statements attributed to you indicate that you believe that this kind of discipline is appropriate and that you do not intend to stop disciplining your children this way.”
“The well-being of your children is of paramount concern. In the absence of speaking to you to understand your current disposition toward child discipline, we cannot be sure that this conduct will not be repeated. Moreover, we are unaware of any effort on your part to acknowledge the seriousness of your conduct and your responsibility to demonstrate a genuine commitment to change.
“In order to assess your progress going forward, I will establish periodic reviews, the first of which will be on or about April 15, 2015. At that time, I will meet with you and your representatives and the NFLPA to review the extent to which you have complied with your program of counseling and therapy and both made and lived up to an affirmative commitment to change such that this conduct will not occur again. A failure to cooperate and follow your plan will result in a lengthier suspension without pay.”
“It is imperative that you to avoid any incident of this kind in the future. Any further violation of the Personal Conduct Policy will result in additional discipline and may subject you to banishment from the NFL.”
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