Friday, April 17, 2015

Whither justice

There will be signs. There's an outside chance some of them will even be spelled right.

There will be signs and there will be catcalls drifting down from on high and Adrian Peterson might as well resign himself to it, might as well surrender to the reality that when you live in celebrity's spotlight, your bad acts will never be forgotten. They will be thrown up to you long after whatever official justice has been meted out. They will echo down the years because, unlike the legal system, the court of pubic opinion carries no statute of limitations on anything.

Particularly if you're wearing Viking purple on an autumn Sunday in, say, Green Bay, Wis., or Chicago, Ill.

That Peterson may or may not be doing that remains an open question, given that he feels the Vikes failed to adequately stand by him during the late unpleasantness. If their relationship is not officially on the rocks, it's on a direct heading toward them.

Meanwhile, Roger Goodell has reinstated Peterson, and so let the retribution begin. You whip a 4-year-old with a switch so zealously you bruise his testicles, no one's gonna let you up easy even if the league has. And frankly no one should.

That Peterson's lawyer, Rusty Harden, so clumsily tried to defend the indefensible -- he actually said, that the child suffered no permanent damage, so no harm, no foul -- only made things worse for him.  And it's hard not to react to that by saying "Good."

Look, I don't care Peterson if grew up getting beat by his dad because his dad got beat by his dad, who got beat by his dad.  Family tradition is no excuse for a grown-ass man to whip a 4-year-old with a switch. And trying to paper over it by calling it "discipline" is just the coward's way of not owning up.

That said ... Goodell wasn't wrong to reinstate him.

The fans may recognize no statute of limitations, but the legal system and civilized society in general do. And Peterson's has expired. The legal system has acted, Peterson has accepted its verdict, and it's time to move on. As disgusting as what he did was, a lifetime ban from the NFL would have been equally disgusting -- especially for someone who had been a generally exemplary employee until he decided to pick on a 4-year-old.

Within the constructs of civilized society, there is justice, and there is revenge. Banning Peterson for life would have been the latter. Reinstating him after an appropriate period of time is the former. We can certainly debate the definition of "appropriate," but it wouldn't change the ultimate outcome.

Sooner or later, Goodell was going to let him up. And now he has, officially ending penalty phase one.

Penalty phase two -- the signs, the catcalls, the court of public opinion weighing in -- figures to last awhile longer.


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