Adrian Peterson admits he still uses switch to discipline his children

Adrian Peterson is enjoying a renaissance year with the Washington Redskins, on pace for his first 1,000-yard season since 2015.

In a new profile on Bleacher Report by Master Tesfatsion, Peterson discusses his ever-present obsession with greatness, but also addresses his complicated past and admits to still doing the very thing that cost him a season of his career.

‘Nine times out of 10, that’s not the case’

In 2014, Peterson missed essentially the entire season when he was indicted on charges of reckless or negligent injury to a child. He had used a switch — a long, thin, flexible branch used in corporal punishment — to discipline one of his sons, who was 4 at the time.

The boy suffered cuts and bruises to his legs, buttocks and even scrotum. A Minnesota doctor saw the marks and reported them to authorities. However, since the incident had occurred in Peterson’s native Texas, the situation fell under the jurisdiction of Montgomery County in that state.

The Minnesota Vikings deactivated Peterson for a game, but after public outcry, he was placed on the Commissioner’s Exempt list, which is basically paid suspension.

Though Peterson pleaded no contest to reduce the felony to a misdemeanor and received a $4,000 fine and 80 hours of community service as retribution, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell kept him on the exempt list, and in November of that year suspended him for six games without pay.

“You have shown no meaningful remorse for your conduct,” Goodell wrote in a letter to Peterson. The running back said he was “blindsided” by the decision.

But four years later, Peterson admitted to Tesfatsion that when other methods — like taking away electronics, putting them in timeout, or having them do wall squats — don’t work, he still uses a belt to punish his children, and at time uses a switch, which he once said he would stop using.

Though Peterson said, “Nine times out of 10, that’s not the case.”

Adrian Peterson through his career
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Adrian Peterson through his career
Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (28) celebrates with fans after he runs for a 61-yard touchdown during the second half of their NFL football game against the Detroit Lions in Minneapolis, November 11, 2012. Minnesota won 34-24. REUTERS/Eric Miller (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)
Jan 10, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (right) greets Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) after a NFC Wild Card playoff football game at TCF Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports
Suspended Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson exits following his hearing against the NFL over his punishment for child abuse, in New York, New York, U.S. December 2, 2014. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo
Dec 10, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) poses for a photo with Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (28) following the game at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the Vikings 23-20. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 4, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) and Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (28) after the game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Broncos won 23-20. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - NOVEMBER 6: Adrian Peterson shakes hands after the game on November 6, 2016 at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - DECEMBER 27: Adrian Peterson #28 of the Minnesota Vikings gets interviewed after the game against the New York Giants on December 27, 2015 at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Vikings defeated the Giants 49-17. (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - NOVEMBER 29: Adrian Peterson #28 of the Minnesota Vikings looks on from the sidelines during the second half against the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome on November 29, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - NOVEMBER 29: Adrian Peterson #28 of the Minnesota Vikings runs the ball during the second half against the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome on November 29, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (28) heads to the field during an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions in Detroit, Michigan USA, on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2015. (Photo by Jorge Lemus/NurPhoto) (Photo by NurPhoto/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - SEPTEMBER 16: Adrian Peterson #28 of the Minnesota Vikings runs with the football against the Indianapolis Colts during the game at Lucas Oil Stadium on September 16, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Colts won 23-20. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Sep 11, 2017; Minneapolis, MN, USA; New Orleans Saints running back Adrian Peterson (28) takes the field prior to the game against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 11: New Orleans Saints running back Adrian Peterson (28) talks with Vikings players after a NFL game between the Minnesota Vikings and New Orleans Saints on September 11, 2017 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, MN. The Vikings defeated the Saints 29-19.(Photo by Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

‘I didn’t let that change me’

Peterson said he understood that what he did to his young son then was “a mistake,” but he does not believe he abuses his children. “It wasn’t my intention to do that,” he said of the cuts and bruises that he caused. “But it happened.”

His situation touched off a discussion on corporal punishment, and highlighted the cultural differences in beliefs about spanking. An ABC News poll published earlier this month showed that overall, 65 percent of Americans approve of spanking children in the home; only 26 percent believe grade school teachers should be allowed to do it in schools.

“There’s different ways I discipline my kids,” Peterson said. “I didn’t let that [2014 case] change me.”

Peterson reasons that he was disciplined with belts and switches, and it helped him become the man he is today.

“My kids love me,” he said of his six children. “When they want something, they come ask dad. They enjoy being around me.”

Peterson’s agent speaks out

Peterson’s agent, Ron Slavin, released a statement about the story on Wednesday night, and claimed that Peterson’s “trust with this reporter was violated.”

“There is nothing more important to Ardian Peterson than being a good father to his children,” Slavin said in a statement, via the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. “Bleacher Report approached the Washington Redskins and Adrian about doing a story about his resurgence on the field and his leadership in the locker room. Adrian’s trust with this reporter was violated when he discussed what happened four years ago.

“Adrian learned several valuable lessons four years ago, thanks in part to his suspension and counseling he underwent during and afterward. The writer attempted to focus on four years ago rather than who Adrian is now as a father.

“Since signing with the Redskins he has been an outstanding teammate and leader both on and off the field. Neither Adrian or myself will make any further comment on this article. His focus remains on leading the Redskins to the playoffs.”

More carries may be coming after Alex Smith injury

Washington lost quarterback Alex Smith for the season last Sunday, after the tibia and fibula in his right leg were broken on a sack.

With Colt McCoy now the quarterback, Peterson may get even more carries. Currently, he has 723 yards in 10 games; only four running backs in NFL history have recorded 1,000 or more rushing yards in a season past their 33rd birthday.

His spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame is likely already assured, but Peterson sounded incredulous when talking about still playing now.

“What other reason are you doing it? That’s the kind of approach I’ve always had,” he said. “If you’re not trying to be the best at what you do in your profession—sewing, painting, a doctor—then why are you doing it? You want to be average? Just go through the motions and be OK?”

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