x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Critics decrying Adrian Peterson's choice to play in the wake of his family tragedy are being unfair.

Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson pauses during introductions before his game last Sunday. One of the star running back's sons, a 2-year-old in South Dakota, died after an alleged attack in a child abuse case. Michael Conroy / AP Photo
Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson pauses during introductions before his game last Sunday. One of the star running back's sons, a 2-year-old in South Dakota, died after an alleged attack in a child abuse case. Michael Conroy / AP Photo

Adrian Peterson elicited puzzlement, if not outright boos, in some precincts of the NFL for opting to play last Sunday, two days after his toddler son died from an apparent beating.

Critics wondered about misplaced priorities, saying he should have devoted the weekend to grieving or comforting others.

Any disparagement was unfair, at least from those who do not know the Minnesota Vikings tailback. Each of us mourns personal loss differently, and judging anyone’s degree of heartache based on his actions is foolhardy.

Besides, Peterson did spend time with family – his football family. Unlike most other professions, teams spawn relationships that approximate, or even exceed, relationships between siblings.

Peterson reportedly never met the child, having only recently learned that he was the father after a DNA test was completed. The mother lived in a different state with a man who has been charged with murder.

Those factors would not excuse Peterson if he had felt no anguish over the tragedy. But, by all accounts, he was distraught and he did attend the funeral. Football has long served as a sanctuary for Peterson.

As a youngster, Peterson witnessed his brother being killed on a bicycle by an automobile. As a teenager, he saw his father jailed. Shortly before he was drafted, a half-brother was shot and killed. He found solace in playing the game.

He deserves the benefit of doubt to recover in his own way.

sports@thenational.ae