Minn. governor defends Vikings RB Peterson

Published 8:54 am Thursday, July 19, 2012

ST. PAUL — Gov. Mark Dayton has a theory on why so many NFL players have been in trouble with the law lately — they have too much time on their hands and they have similarities with soldiers returning from war.

“Idle time is the devil’s play,” Dayton told Minnesota Public Radio on Tuesday.

Minnesota Vikings star running back Adrian Peterson faces a misdemeanor charge of resisting arrest after  a confrontation with an off-duty police officer at a Houston night club. His next court date is Aug. 6.

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Dayton defended Peterson as “an upstanding citizen and really fine role model,” noting that the back had denied responsibility for the July 7 altercation. The governor said his own security people suggested an off-duty officer in plainclothes who looks like a bouncer shouldn’t necessarily expect to be treated like an officer.

Dayton said NFL players are off about half the year — more than athletes from other sports.

“It means that young males who are heavily armored and heavily psyched as necessary to carry out their job are probably more susceptible to be in bars at 2 o’clock in the morning and have problems, or DUIs. It doesn’t excuse it, it just says that it probably comes with it,” Dayton said.

He said he wishes they would hold themselves to higher standards.

“Obviously they’re falling considerably short of that now,” he said.

Football players aren’t ordinary citizens, he said, and compared the game to combat.

“It’s basically slightly civilized war, and then they take that into society, much as solders come back, and they’ve been in combat or the edge of it and then suddenly that adjustment back to civilian life is a real challenge,” Dayton said.