Earlier this week in speaking of Vikings players getting arrested Gov. Mark Dayton said, "idle hands are the devil's play" and compared their travails to military veterans.

On Thursday, the governor apologized for his comments.

"I made a poor analogy, by saying that the psychological adjustments they have to make from their contests to normal society were not unlike the difficulties experienced by returning veterans," Dayton said in a statement.

On a public radio program on Tuesday, the governor had said that football is "basically slightly civilized war, and then they take that into society, much as solders come back, and they’ve been in combat or the edge of it and then suddenly that adjustment back to civilian life is a real challenge."

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton as he rallied for a new Vikings stadium

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton as he rallied for a new Vikings stadium

Those comments and his seeming defense of recently arrested Viking Adrian Peterson made national sports news. On Thursday, he said his comparison between football players and military veterans was wrong.

“Some of the psychological dynamics may be similar; however, I, in no way, meant to compare their challenges with the traumas and hardships experienced by the heroes who fought in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. While I am a football fan, I reserve my highest respect and admiration for those courageous Americans in uniform, who risk their lives to keep us safe and to make the world more free," said Dayton, who spent considerable political capital to win the Vikings a new stadium this year. “I regret my mistake, and I apologize for it.”

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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