A columnist writing about the Packers for Packersnews.com — a USA Today-affiliated site — had a mostly measured take about why Green Bay should pursue Adrian Peterson now that the running back is set to hit the open market.
But like an offensive tackle who has a few bad plays (can’t think of any examples), the bad in this case is what stands out.
After making a long case for why Peterson is still useful as a player, author Pete Dougherty turns to the question of off-field matters. He goes down a path of comparing Peterson’s child abuse case to Michael Vick’s conviction in connection to dog fighting, which leads to a conclusion that Peterson has paid his price.
The column as it reads now also says, “As for Peterson, society is changing fast, and obviously for the better, on many things, including disciplining children. I’m 55 and have friends about a generation older who say corporal punishment in school was routine. That’s not that long ago.
This is learned behavior.”
OK, that’s a pretty common take on this. You might not agree with it, but it’s not over the line.
But what it originally said between those two paragraphs — as discovered by Deadspin — was:
“Let’s not also forget that Peterson likely is descended from slaves who suffered savage disciplinary beatings generation after generation after generation. It excuses nothing but also can’t be ignored.”
And here we run into a whole host of problems, including: 1) making an assumption about Peterson’s family history; and 2) connecting that potential history to how it might have influenced his treatment of his son.
It was wiped from the column after Deadspin pointed it out, and now the top of the column carries an editor’s note that reads:
A paragraph in an earlier version of Pete Dougherty’s column that included a reference to Peterson’s punishment of his 4-year-old son being connected to America’s history of slavery was removed. It was poorly reasoned and insensitive. We apologize to all readers who were offended.