Why This Vikings Fan is Giving AP the Benefit of the Doubt

APAdrian Peterson said the right things during his press conference yesterday, and right now, that’s all that can be asked of him.

He acknowledged it was a mistake to punish his 4-year-old son so severely that he ended up pleading guilty to assault, accepted responsibility for his actions, and said he never meant to portray himself as a victim, even if that’s the impression many people were left with more than once over the past nine months since AP was first indicted for child abuse.

Words are one thing — actually being a more responsible parent is another. But I have no window into AP’s personal life aside from his absence from the courts and crime blotter, so until he reappears there or generates more headlines for unsavory personal conduct, I’m ready to give him the benefit of the doubt.

If I don’t, I’m judging AP’s current character for things that happened in the past and can no longer be changed. While the incident involving his son was reprehensible, AP was punished, went through therapy, and now, he has clearly and unequivocally apologized. It’s time to move on.

Furthermore, let’s face facts — pro sports fans in general and Vikings fans in particular are long used to cheering for guys with questionable characters and checkered criminal backgrounds. Rightly or wrongly, after justice is served, we distinguish between the athletes who entertain us on gameday and who they are off the field.

So while I’m not about to rush out and purchase an AP jersey, I’m prepared to root for him this year and am glad he has a shot at redemption in Minnesota. It could actually end up being a great feel-good story. I just hope he sincerely means the things he said yesterday so that I don’t end being a sucker for saying so.

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