Skip navigation
Sign up to follow your favorites on all your devices.
Sign up

Rusty Hardin: Don’t lump Adrian Peterson in with Ray Rice


If Ray Rice’s elevator video hadn’t become public, Adrian Peterson probably would have been playing for the Vikings over the last eight weeks. But Peterson’s indictment on a charge of abusing his 4-year-old son was handed down just as the NFL was in the midst of a firestorm of criticism for its handling of Rice, and as a result Peterson has spent the last eight weeks out of the NFL.

Now that Peterson has resolved the legal issue with a no-contest plea, his lawyer says it’s time for the NFL to separate Peterson from the league’s domestic violence scandal.

“I hope and trust he doesn’t fall prey to all these publicized events involving other people, which had nothing to do with his situation,” lawyer Rusty Hardin said on Mike & Mike. “This is a parent disciplining a child and an unintended harm occurred. But it has nothing to do with child abuse, domestic abuse, family abuse and so on, so I hope he doesn’t continue to get lumped in with problems others have.”

Hardin suggested that if it hadn’t been for the Rice elevator video, Peterson likely never would have been charged with anything. According to Hardin, Peterson was set to be cleared in the investigation into the injuries sustained by his son until the Rice video caused the prosecutor and the grand jury to give closer scrutiny to Peterson.

“On September 4 we were informed a grand jury here had declined to charge him and that it was over,” Hardin said. “And then the Ray Rice video came out that Monday on TMZ, and that next Thursday, the 11th, we were informed the grand jury was reconsidering his case, and then he was indicted. Part of what’s happened here is lumping these athletes in together. They’re all individuals, they’re all different circumstances. What I’m hoping is the NFL and the public will assess them individually and not lump them together. And if they do that I think Adrian has earned the right to get his chance.”

Hardin is obviously right that there are differences between what Rice did and what Peterson did. It’s also true that Peterson has admitted to whipping a small child so severely that the child was cut and bruised on his back, buttocks, ankles, legs and scrotum, along with defensive wounds to the child’s hands. Peterson should be judged individually, and not lumped in with Rice. But Peterson should be judged as what he is: A big, strong man who hurt a small child.