In the Dead of Night

Yesterday morning, at about 12:52 Central time, 1:52 Eastern time, the Minnesota Vikings issued a press release explaining their decision to place Adrian Peterson on the Exempt/Commissioner’s Permission List. This rarely used remedy amounts to an indefinite suspension with pay for Peterson. In announcing the decision, the Vikings did what, it seems, all big business entities due in such circumstances: tout the organization’s own bona fides.

Here’s part of what the Vikings said in their statement:

“We are always focused on trying to make the right decision as an organization. We embrace our role – and the responsibilities that go with it – as a leader in the community, as a business partner and as an organization that can build bridges with our fans and positively impact this great region. We appreciate and value the input we have received from our fans, our partners and the community.

The statement continued:

“While we were trying to make a balanced decision yesterday, after further reflection we have concluded that this resolution is best for the Vikings and for Adrian. We want to be clear: we have a strong stance regarding the protection and welfare of children, and we want to be sure we get this right.

The entire statement set Mike Greenberg off, but these two portions in particular sent him into an unusual rage. He rightly mocked the idea that the Vikings have been leaders of any kind on this matter. It’s transparently true that the franchise is responding to a rapidly changing social and political landscape (the state’s governor called the Vikings out on their decision Monday to reinstate Peterson). They’ve displayed no leadership, only a predictable and craven attempt to have their cake (they obviously wanted Peterson to play) and eat it it too (by touting the deliberative “process” by which they tried to make this decision, when their hand was obviously forced).

Greenberg also sneeringly noted that it’s ridiculous for the Vikes to assert that they take a strong stance on the “protection and welfare of children.” What other kind of stance, after all, is there to take on that score? That they don’t really give a shit about the protection and welfare of children?

The Carolina Panthers, who decided yesterday to place Greg Hardy on the same exemption list, similarly tied themselves in knots trying to explain how their obvious craven handling of Hardy was somehow a reflection of their oh-so-laudable “values” as an organization.

In both cases and, indeed, whenever large profit-making entities try to talk about their “values,” it’s hard for me not to roll my eyes. When it comes to NFL franchises, to take the present example, the only “value” that matters to any of them is their bottom line. That’s such a banality, that it seems almost silly to say it out loud. But the Vikings need to tout their probity and good intent is a good reminder of how shameless these organizations are. Vikes’ owner Ziggy Wilf was convicted of racketeering last year for bilking business partners out of millions of dollars. He also spent millions lobbying state lawmakers, who rewarded his largesse with a boondoggle stadium deal that will provide hundreds of millions in subsidies to the billionaire Wilf. This at a time when Minnesota, like other states, has faced substantial budgetary pressure to cut programs to aid poor families. Which raises the question: How are those subsidies going to end up adversely affecting the welfare of children in Wilf’s cherished community?

Cheap shot? Maybe. But certainly not as cheap as the Vikings organization’s pathetic attempt to portray itself as a paragon of virtue at a moment when its actions are particularly worthy of contempt.



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