In 2014, Adrian Peterson was charged with felony child abuse, entered a plea deal to misdemeanor reckless assault, and was suspended from the NFL for beating his son. In a shocking new interview, Peterson has admitted that he still hits his son with a belt.
“I had to discipline my son and spank him the other day with a belt,” Peterson told Master Tesfatsion of Bleacher Report.
Peterson is no longer on probation for the previous abuse case, but his public admission could draw scrutiny from legal authorities. Different states have different laws about parents physically disciplining their children, and it is unclear from the Bleacher Report article where the incident with the belt took place.
Regardless of any legal issues, Peterson could also now face discipline from the NFL, which made clear when Peterson was suspended in 2014 that his reinstatement was dependent upon his agreeing to go through counseling and be a better father to his children.
“The timing of your potential reinstatement will be based on the results of the counseling and treatment program set forth in this decision,” the league told Peterson in a 2014 letter. “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.”
If the NFL views Peterson hitting his son with a belt as a failure to “properly care for your children,” he could be suspended regardless of whether he faces criminal charges. The NFL has made it clear with past incidents that players can be disciplined under the personal-conduct policy even if they are not criminally charged.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell also told Peterson in a letter that Goodell found it troubling that, “You have shown no meaningful remorse for your conduct.” That Peterson is now openly talking about hitting his son with a belt again suggests no meaningful remorse. Peterson may again find himself sanctioned for hitting his son.
UPDATE 8:52 p.m. ET: Peterson has responded to the story in a statement from his agent, Ron Slavin.