Ever since the indictment in Texas against Adrian Peterson became public, the debate over the punishing of a child has been lopsided. Peterson has been branded as a child abuser and portrayed by some in the local and national media as some kind of monster.
Cornerback Captain Munnerlyn provided a different perspective on Wednesday that will likely draw some criticism his way for speaking his mind – and speaking from experience.
While some contend that times have changed and that children aren’t punished with such cruel methods, Munnerlyn said that the times hadn’t changed in his world. He got whippings as a child and believes Peterson is being singled out more because he’s a celebrity than because he is an abusive parent.
“You can always say times have changed – you can’t do this, you can’t do that,” Munnerlyn said. “But where I’m from in Alabama, how I was raised, it’s the same thing. If Adrian wasn’t in the limelight I don’t think this would even be coming up at all. You raise your kids how you raise your kids. They’re your kids. I think Adrian is a great guy, a great dude, a great father, a great football player. I just think the ways he’s been treated is unfair.”
Munnerlyn made the point, despite the strong feelings that so many people have had since learning the news of the grand jury indictment and evidence that was leaked to the media, that Peterson has been subjected to a rush to judgment without the opportunity to give his side or have basic rights of the presumption of innocence.
In this case, the court of public opinion has already tried and convicted Peterson by taking away his ability to play. Munnerlyn believes Peterson has been made to be something of a victim himself.
“In my personal opinion, I don’t think it’s fair at all,” Munnerlyn said. “I think he should be able to play. He hasn’t been convicted of nothing. All of these allegations – pictures out and this and that – he hasn’t been convicted of nothing. In crimes, you’re innocent until you’re convicted guilty and I don’t think he’s guilty of nothing yet. I think he should be able to play football. I really don’t get it. At the end of the day, they came down with the decision, but I really don’t get it.”
Some may view Munnerlyn’s opinion – and several times he stated that they were merely his opinion – as being a player simply sticking up for a teammate and ignoring the facts of the case. In Munnerlyn’s life experience, however, he is intimately familiar with the same kind of punishment Peterson inflicted on his 4-year-old son. In some respects, he feels like learning those painful lessons of right and wrong as a child has helped transform him into the person he is today.
“Growing up, that was nothing,” Munnerlyn said of severe physical punishment. “My mom, she always whipped me up just like that. In my culture that’s how I was raised. That’s how my mom raised her kids. Look at me now. I’m in the NFL and I’m doing great.”
When the Vikings announced Monday that Peterson would be reinstated after sitting out Sunday’s game against New England, the outcry from both the public and many of the team’s corporate sponsors influenced the organizational about-face the Vikings had in the Peterson matter. While some believed it should have been that way all along, Munnerlyn was stunned when he first heard the news late last night, because he believed that if Peterson had the chance to explain that this was part of the culture in which he was raised that, while there may not be forgiveness, at least there might be some understanding of the “why” in the issue and not the “what” of the disturbing photos that surfaced.
“I didn’t think this would be the outcome at all,” Munnerlyn said of the Vikings’ decision. “Growing up, I was disciplined the same way. I think Adrian is a great dude, a great parent. One situation like this … it’s people’s opinion. I support Adrian and everything he did, I didn’t see anything wrong it. That’s me, personally.”
This issue likely isn’t going to go away any time soon and, given his public show of support, Munnerlyn himself may become the subject of ridicule and criticism for expressing his opinion, based on his own experience. While he didn’t advocate or condone whipping a child, having gone through himself, his is a voice that should be heard in the chorus of voices denouncing Peterson, because, if for no other reason, he knows more intimately why A.P. did what he did.
“Growing up, my mom disciplined me the same way,” Munnerlyn said. “It got me to this point now. I’m in the NFL and I know how to behave. I don’t really see the big deal of it. People are blowing it out of proportion. At the end of the day, we came here to win football games and I think football, right now for Adrian, it’s the best thing for him to do – play football.”
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.
Munnerlyn: Peterson didn't get fair treatment
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