After initially receiving praise for their prompt suspension of Adrian Peterson following allegations of child abuse, the Minnesota Vikings reversed course, reinstated the star running back, and are now the subject of renewed criticism.
A healthy amount of criticism has come from the Vikings' own fan base, highlighted by what appears to be the voluntary shutting down of a popular Vikings fan blog. The homepage of Vikingsmessageboard.com was wiped following Peterson's reinstatement, and replaced with this strongly-worded statement, now available only via a cached copy provided by Google:
Vikings Message Board has been shut down permanently. It will not return. There are two primary reasons.
1. The Vikings cowardly decision to reinstate a child abuser and think that an apology will make this blow over. We will not stand for this arrogance and we will no longer be the home of any support of the Vikings. We stand for those who cannot defend themselves.
2. We will not give a voice to those who think child abuse is "cultural" or worse, openly advocate child abuse as a reasonable method of punishment. This ends here. Yes, a few board members have ruined it for everyone. Congratulations, a****les.
edit: we have replaced the word "thugs" with "those" to avoid any potential racial connotation. it wasn't intended and appears to be distracting from the real message that child abuse is never okay.
Despite the note's unequivocal and inclusive tone, a moderator of the website, Jim Nelson, told CBS Sports the page's sudden end and accompanying statement were the work of one person. As such, says Nelson, the decision is not necessarily reflective of the entire community or even other administrators at the site.
There are now numerous news reports around the web regarding the sudden demise of that community and the statement that accompanied it. Most of those reports understandably make the assumption that a large group of fans chose to make this move in protest. I use the word "understandably" because the administrator who shut the board down used the word "we" in the strongly worded statement he temporarily posted at the board's address. However, that statement, and the choice to shut down a forum that was over a decade old, was not the decision of a large group of devoted Vikings fans. All indications are that it was the decision of one individual, who closed down a community that had varying views and opinions and then decided to speak for its members without asking for their blessing or permission.
There was a great deal of outrage in that community over the ongoing Adrian Peterson story but there was no single unified view on it. There were many different views, some extreme, some quite intelligent, insightful and nuanced.
Peterson is accused of causing numerous bruises and lacerations to his 4-year-old son's lower body by punishing the boy with a switch. Unless the Vikings reverse their decision, Peterson will be allowed to play in next Sunday's game against New Orleans.
UPDATE: The Vikings reversed course, announcing that they have placed Peterson on the Exempt/Commissioner's Permission list, essentially deactivating him and keeping him away from all team activities until the legal process is resolved.