Adrian Peterson

James Lang/USA Today Sports

'Monday Night Football' crew slams Redskins for signing alleged domestic abuser Reuben Foster, while praising child abuser Adrian Peterson

Alex Reimer
December 04, 2018 - 10:16 am

Towards the end of “Monday Night Football,” the often cliche-ridden Jason Witten delivered one of the strongest condemnations of an NFL team you will ever hear from a game analyst. The former Cowboys tight end lambasted the Redskins for signing linebacker Reuben Foster just three days after his second domestic violence arrest in nine months, calling out their decision-making process.

“One hundred percent no,” Witten said. “I believe the Washington Redskins used horrendous judgment in claiming this guy. And I understand that it’s an ongoing investigation. But my family’s been affected by domestic violence. I understand the anguish that it causes. And you know, young players just have to understand that there is no tolerance for putting your hands on a woman. Period.”

This league-friendly crew seemed destined to deliver another rendition of “the punt is blocked!,” so give Witten and Booger McFarland credit for going against the Shield. Some critics have pointed out that Witten defended Greg Hardy’s work ethic when the Cowboys signed the suspected abuser in 2015, but the circumstances are different. While it’s acceptable to expect broadcasters to go against the league, it’s unrealistic to expect any team captain to publicly rebuke his newest teammate. Players keep quiet all of the time, and for proof of that, look no further than the Astros. Pitchers Justin Verlander and Lance McCullers Jr. blasted a former Houston prospect this year when video surfaced of him beating up his girlfriend. They were silent, however, when the team acquired alleged domestic abuser Roberto Osuna at the trade deadline.

Also, if you’re looking to criticize Witten for hypocrisy about domestic violence, there’s no need to go back two years. Just go back two hours. In the first half, Washington running back Adrian Peterson busted a 90-yard touchdown run. It was the longest run of his career, and all three MNF announcers salivated over his accomplishment. 

Peterson, of course, was indicted in 2014 on charges of reckless injury to a child, because he beat his then-four-year-old to a pulp. The running back did not express much contrition in the aftermath of his arrest, instead opting to ride on a camel during his lavish birthday party and demand more money from the Vikings. 

And now, it’s apparent Peterson hasn't changed his ways. He admitted in an interview last month he still practices corporal punishment with his kids. 

But since the attention surrounding Peterson’s penchant for child abuse reached an apex four years ago, it’s OK to celebrate “AD,” as Joe Tessitore puts it. The Foster story is too new. The sports media is not outraged the Redskins signed a player who’s been accused of domestic violence multiple times. It is outraged the Redskins did it so brazenly. 

The events of the last week have once again exposed our collective hypocrisy when it comes to judging professional athletes accused of beating women. The Chiefs cut running back Kareem Hunt Friday, because video came out of him kicking a woman in a hallway. Yet Tyreek Hill, who choked his pregnant girlfriend, lights up our TV screens every Sunday. Good thing there are no videos of those reported beatings. 

Timing and evidence matters more than the action itself. Let enough time pass, and you will probably get another chance, unless you’re Ray Rice. Nobody can touch Rice, because there’s video. Seeing the image of Rice knocking down his girlfriend is more powerful than reading police reports. 

Give credit to Witten for speaking out against the Redskins’ audacity. But he, and most others, probably would’ve been quiet if they had waited a few months.