Of backlashes and blitzes: NFL Nation under siege

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton has called Adrian Peterson’s reinstatement “a public embarrassment.”

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton has called Adrian Peterson’s reinstatement “a public embarrassment.”

Well, that was quick.

No sooner was Adrian Peterson deactivated by the Minnesota Vikings for felony child abuse than he was reinstated after his team took a drubbing from the New England Patriots.

While Peterson is said to be a few floors short of an observation desk, he may not be as lacking in self-awareness as his smiling mug shot would attest. He’s taken to posting biblical passages of the “judge not lest ye be judged” variety. Religion may not be “the opiate of the masses,” as Karl Marx called it, but it is certainly the last refuge of the vilified.

Meanwhile, the Vikings have taken refuge in that other august document, the Constitution, saying there’s no reason Peterson should not play while awaiting due process. Really? I worked for a company in which a cleaning man was caught red-handed stealing a small amount of cash. He was fired on the spot. A company doesn’t need a court of law to decide which behavior it will and will not tolerate.

Nor do individuals need moralizing sermons to know that there’s a vast difference between pre-judging people and holding them accountable for their behavior. Peterson has not denied what he did only that what he did was not child abuse. A doctor and a district attorney beg to differ. That would seem to merit a suspension to me.

But NFL Nation hides behind the Bible and the Constitution, which are just excuses for what’s really at stake – winning, money, the fantasy league, more money.

And so the Adrian Peterson Redemption Tour begins. Ray Rice is also on the comeback trail, appealing his suspension from the NFL for coldcocking his wife. (And already some are saying that what Rice did wasn’t as bad as Peterson’s behavior, because a woman can defend herself while a child can’t. Here’s the thing: There aren’t degrees of heinous action here. They’re both terrible acts.)

The more the NFL remains consistently inconsistent on domestic violence – convicted Carolina Panther Greg Hardy played in the season opener while the arrested 49er Ray McDonald has also played – the more politicians and sponsors are pushing back. Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton called for Peterson’s suspension. Anheuser-Busch, a huge advertiser, has expressed concern. New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand – a hero of mine for her role in probing sexual abuse in the military – says there could be hearings. And New Jersey Sen. Corey Booker has introduced a bill that would deny the NFL and other sports leagues their nonprofit status.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has been busy hiring women as lobbyists and consultants.

It may not be enough.