Former Patriots linebacker and current ESPN NFL analyst Tedy Bruschi, in his weekly interview on WEEI’s Dale & Holley show, slammed the Vikings for their decision to reinstate running back Adrian Peterson after a one-game suspension in the aftermath of his arrest on charges of reckless or negligent injuries inflicted on his 4-year-old son.
Bruschi suggested that the incident and its handling “sickens” him, and that Peterson has no business being back on the field. He decried Vikings owner Zygi Wilf’s statement suggesting that the Vikings will let Peterson play in deference to “due process” as the facts of the case are examined by the legal system.
“It was hard to cover the NFL, hard to be a former player. I just tried so hard during my 13 years in the NFL to progress as an individual also, to realize that I know I’m still playing the same sport that I did in college and in high school, but your progression as an individual must continue in terms of getting better in terms of who you are, what you believe, the actions that you take. Some of these guys, they just don’t understand and they can’t learn. They can’t learn,” said Bruschi. “Violence, it’s a terrible excuse not to use your mind, not to think, not to find another alternative, not to find another way to solve a problem that you may have in your life. It’s just a shame to almost be a former player in the NFL right now with some of the issues having to dealt with.
“The reinstatement, that can’t happen. That can’t happen. The words due process, I’m really getting tired of hearing those words from powerful people in terms of, you’re making the decisions. It’s your organization. It’s your team. You own a team. It’s yours,” Bruschi said. “The owners are using, or whoever it may be, you’re using due process as something to hide behind, something to hide behind where you don’t say, ‘This is what I believe in, and I don’t care what’s going on. This is the action I’m going to take.’ It seems like they’re afraid to state what they believe. That’s sort of a shame because we’re dealing with some pretty sensitive issues here with child abuse and domestic violence. The fact that one owner, you won’t take the lead. You won’t take the lead and do something. I know what happened to Ray Rice and how he was basically cut from the Ravens. The words due process, it’s really such a cop-out to me in how they’re using it and how cowardly they’ve been using those two words.”
Bruschi said that, if he were Peterson’s teammate, he would find it hard to stomach having Peterson back on the active roster.
“Let’s say I’m a Minnesota Viking. He gets reinstated and he’s probably with the team right now,” Bruschi imagined. “It’s something to where, now I shake my head because my organization decided to put him back to us. It’s not like I’m going up to him, shaking his hand, giving him some dap and giving him a hug, ‘Welcome back, man, it’s good to have you.’ I can’t do that. I can’t do that based on what I know has happened.
“It’s just another thing that, I’d be conflicted. I’ve got to go into my cocoon now and just do my job, whatever position I might be playing — linebacker, kicker, whatever. I’m just going to do my job and although I disagree with what the organization’s decisions that they’re making, I’ve still got to do something for myself and my family and continue to conduct myself the way that I do and then just worry about that, because the whole team — the all-for-one, one-for-all thing — sort of goes out the door now that you’re bringing back Adrian Peterson. … Everyone has read the reports and knows what he did to a four-year-old child. I can’t have that.”
Bruschi suggested that the Vikings’ failure to take more decisive action could have considerable repercussions going forward.
“I think it’s an unreasonable message they’re sending to athletes in high school and college that this happened, the news came out, Adrian Peterson said that he saw a psychologist, it’s all good and now he’s back with the team. These professional athletes, they’re entitled. They feel entitled. I know what it feels like,” said Bruschi. “Now this happens, OK, I got deactivated for a game but now I’m back guys. I believe he still got paid for that game and now I’m back. So what message are we really trying to send in terms of having repercussions for your actions? There aren’t, still. There are none. He’s back with the team. He hasn’t been punished accordingly. I know that due process, you have to wait for that to play out — a cop-out.
“But there’s no accountability. There’s no accountability for some of these guys. They’re sending a message that athletes are entitled. They’re special. There’s special treatment for the exceptional athlete, because if Adrian Peterson wasn’t a former MVP and the best running back in the league, he’s gone. Believe that. Believe that. So, I don’t know what kind of message they’re trying to send in Minnesota, in Carolina, in San Francisco. I just wish they’d go, ‘This is what I believe in. This is wrong. This is the action that I’m taking.’
“I’ve read what you’ve read, guys. The 14 to 15 strikes to a 4-year-old boy. A 4-year-old boy, fellas — the size of a 4-year-old child compared to the size of Adrian Peterson and the strikes with a stick, with a switch, with a whip, whatever you want to call it. … It sickens me. It sickens me guys. I’m even more upset that he’s already back,” he said. “The message was sent. The statement’s out. It looks like the Vikings are all good with it. He’s back with the team and it looks like he might play. You can’t change what happened, but going forward, their opportunity to make a difference and to send a message to all athletes, they dropped the ball. They failed.”
Given the nature of the charges, Bruschi said that teams should not defer to due process but instead should be proactive even while a case of physical abuse remains unresolved in the legal system.
“My solution, I don’t have a brilliant solution, but while you’re thinking about it, they should be off the field. … They need to be off the field,” said Bruschi. “You put them back on the field and you’re telling them and you’re telling other athletes that are in the locker room that if I do something that’s even close to this, now I have an idea of what will happen. I’ll get deactivated one game with pay and then I’ll possibly be reinstated.”
Bruschi also took some time to digest the Patriots’ 30-7 victory over the Vikings on Sunday. He said that, aside from the Pats‘ lack of depth at linebacker and the need to have Chandler Jones as a defensive end or outside linebacker rather than interior down lineman, there was little that could be learned against an inferior Vikings opponent.
“Let’s not get excited about a victory over a Minnesota Vikings team like that,” said Bruschi. “They were garbage.”
To listen to Bruschi’s interview, visit the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.