NBA legend Charles Barkley defended Adrian Peterson’s use of corporal punishment to discipline his child -- a practice that led to the Minnesota Vikings running back’s indictment Friday on a charge of reckless or negligent child injury. Barkley said he believes Peterson’s actions were a byproduct of the manner in which he was raised.
During a Sunday appearance on CBS’ “The NFL Today” pregame show, Barkley disagreed with Boomer Esiason, a former NFL player and CBS personality who harshly criticized Peterson over allegations that he used a switch to beat his 4-year-old son. “I’m from the south. I understand Boomer’s rage and anger. He’s a white guy and I’m a black guy,” Barkley said. “I don’t know where he’s from, I’m from the South. Whipping -- we do that all the time. Every black parent in the south is going to be in jail under those circumstances.”
CBS host Jim Rome disagreed with Barkley’s stance, stating that “right is right and wrong is wrong.” But Barkley would not be dissuaded. “Listen, we spank kids in the south. I think the question about did Adrian Peterson go overboard -- Listen, Jim, we all grow up in different environments. Every black parent in my neighborhood in the South would be in trouble or in jail under those circumstances,” he said.
“Maybe we need to rethink it, but I think we have to really be careful trying to teach other parents how to discipline their kid. That’s a very fine line,” Barkley added.
Meanwhile, Esiason, a former NFL MVP, remained adamant on Monday that Peterson’s actions were wrong, regardless of his upbringing. “I don’t buy [upbringing] as an excuse. Peterson is 6-foot-1, 220 pounds talking about hitting his 4-year-old son with what is known as a switch,” he said during an appearance on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s “Toucher & Rich” radio show. “I never even heard of that until the other night. It’s a tree branch that parents use to whip kids. I found it so reprehensible. I got emotional about it and was very intense about it. It’s no excuse in my eyes.”
Peterson surrendered Saturday to authorities in Montgomery County, Texas. If convicted of the child injury charge, he could face a possible two years in prison and a fine of as much as $10,000.
The Vikings chose to deactivate Peterson for Sunday’s game against the New England Patriots, but announced Monday he will play in next week's game against the New Orleans Saints. League officials said only Peterson’s case “will be reviewed under the NFL’s personal conduct policy.”