The NFL has reinstated star Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, who was suspended after being indicted by a Houston-area jury in September 2014 on charges that he had physically abused his 4-year-old son with a tree branch (aka a “switch”). After negotiations with prosecutors, Peterson pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of reckless assault in November and agreed to pay a fine, perform community service, and be placed on probation.
Peterson may be traded, as he’s reportedly upset with the Vikings for backtracking on their initial decision to let him rejoin the team while charges were pending. (The NFL didn’t officially suspend Peterson until November, but the Vikings held him out of games after Sept. 7.)
An illuminating November 2014 ESPN piece by reporter Joel Anderson depicted the culture of physical discipline in Peterson’s hometown, Palestine, Texas. Wrote Anderson:
Those pictures of the injured 4-year-old might have shocked the rest of the nation, but they were mostly greeted with a shrug in Palestine. “If people think we’re backward, that’s OK with me,” says Daniel Dyer, director of Palestine’s Museum for East Texas Culture. “They can go on ahead and leave us alone. But at least our kids don’t go running around all wild.”
Palestine has held an Adrian Peterson Day every summer since 2007, and the tradition is expected to continue this year.