The star of the Minnesota Vikings, Adrian Peterson, is a favorite of both fans watching the sport and fantasy football team owners. He is a marquee player in every stadium that he enters, and had the football world in awe as he returned to the field in 2012 to record impressive statistics just months after ACL surgery. Now, he faces some criminal charges that may change how he is viewed by fans and whether he even will be allowed to play the game.

A warrant was issued for Peterson’s arrest from Montgomery County, Texas, just outside of Houston. He is facing charges of child abuse for allegedly using a switch, or a tree from a branch, as a means of punishing his four-year-old son (“Vikings’ Adrian Peterson accused of child abuse, Dave Campbell, The Houston Chronicle, September 12, 2014). And now there have been new allegations of abuse against a second son. By all accounts, Peterson has been cooperative with authorities and believes that he was disciplining his children in a matter consistent with the way he was raised and with no malicious intent involved. For its part, Vikings management is monitoring the situation closely.

This unsettling news about Peterson follows the release of a videotape showing running back Ray Rice punching his then-girlfriend in the face while the two of them were in an elevator in Atlantic City, which got him summarily dismissed from his role with the Baltimore Ravens. On the other side of the country, the San Francisco 49ers still seem unclear as to how they plan to handle the allegations that Ray McDonald assaulted his fiancée. And the Carolina Panthers Greg Hardy is still on the field as he appeals a conviction for harming his girlfriend (“Two more NFL players face domestic violence issues, Steve Reed,, September 10, 2014).

“There is no doubt that the National Football League is having a serious image problem right now when it comes to its handling of domestic violence. And it’s been interesting, and sometimes troubling, to listen to the reactions of fans and members of the media. You should never make excuses for violence,” shared Tony R. Bertolino, managing lawyer with Bertolino LLP. “What makes the Peterson case different from the others that have made the news in recent days and months is that this time a child is involved, as are some difficult conversations about the rights of parents when it comes to discipline.”

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