The death of Adrian Peterson's son in South Dakota is unspeakably tragic. But Tuesday KFAN's Dan Barreiro cautioned listeners against placing the Vikings running back at the head of the line of survivors most deeply affected by the killing of the boy.
Ty Robert Ruffin was a victim of child abuse, apparently at the hands of his mother's current boyfriend, authorities say.
"As tragic as it is, this isn't like your average story involving a father losing his 2-year-old son," said Barreiro.
"He couldn't possibly have been invested in this child, in part, because he didn't know him by all accounts and, in part, because the first time he visited, even after knowing for several months [he was the biological father], was after the injury," said Barreiro. "Adrian Peterson to that extent is not to me the primary victim here. And the one thing I would have liked to have seen Adrian do is an I appreciate everything people are saying. This is rough for everyone involved but let's think most about this child and also the people who [were] attempting to be with this child."
Barreiro blames TV for nurturing the portrait of Peterson as anguished survivor.
"I put this more on the media machinery. Once this locomotive gets rolling it's almost like the details don't matter: Adrian Peterson lost a brother and [half-]brother, father in prison; look what he has seen and now we add this to the list. We can go to the bank with the story.
"We've got a very complicated situation here that sadly is all too common in the athletic world," said Barreiro, alluding to the seemingly endless epidemic of pro athletes fathering children out of wedlock. "Whose kid is this and who does this kid belong to and how much information do I give you about that kid, etc. To me, the mistake was the momentum this story took on that made this seem like any other story of a father losing his son."
When I tuned into Barreiro's show, the former Strib sports columnist was reading a Facebook posting that ended up on MediaTakeOut.com and TMZ purportedly written by a man who claimed that he and Peterson both recently found out Adrian was the biological father. This other man stated that he raised Ty and was irritated by the "Poor Adrian" crap.
I want to interview this man.
On Friday, Peterson told reporters in the locker room at Winter Park: "This is a private matter and, aah, I'm going to ask y'all to please just respect my privacy; not ask at all about the situation."
While that polite but firm comment has largely worked on local media, it has not kept TMZ, MediaTakeOut and others from delving into the personal life of the never-married Peterson.
To me it's starting to look as though image-conscious Peterson wants privacy because his lifestyle is fraught with what could be called BAD FACTS. Not the least among these is that Adrian Peterson Jr., a son by a woman often called Peterson's fiancée, is roughly the same age as Ty was.
Based on information being posted and reported by MTO and TMZ, women are coming out of the woodwork to say they have children with Peterson.
As a legitimate media member, I am preoccupied with getting information correct the first time more so than MTO or TMZ. But I can tell you that in my 2009 interview with TMZ's Harvey Levin, he grew testy when I tried to discuss errors. So I am confident Levin, as a lawyer, expects accuracy at TMZ.
C.J. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and seen on Fox 9's "Buzz." E-mailers, please state a subject; "Hello" does not count. Attachments are not opened.