Mark Dayton knows why all these NFL players including Adrian Peterson have been getting arrested lately. They just have too much time on their hands. The offseason is long and boring and, according to Dayton, young men with lots of testosterone and aggression are naturally going to act up unless they keep their minds and bodies occupied with meaningful activities. Yup, that’s what he said, more or less. His actual quote reads:
Idle time is the devil’s play. It means that young males who are heavily armored and heavily psyched as necessary to carry out their job are probably more susceptible to being in bars at 2 o’clock [in the morning] and having problems. It doesn’t excuse it. It just says this probably comes with it.
Shake one of their hands and you know that this is someone who is not your ordinary citizen. They’re heavily armored, heavily psyched to do what they have to do and go out there. It’s, basically, slightly civilized war.
Then they take that into society. Much as soldiers come back, they’ve been in combat or the edge of it and suddenly that adjustment back to civilian life is a real challenge. And that’s part of the reality. That’s not to say it’s good and it shouldn’t be improved. It should.
Several questions present themselves. Firstly, if so many of these young men are so “armored up” to use Mr. Dayton’s colorful term, shouldn’t arrests in the off-season be even MORE prevalent than they are? Isn’t it a minor miracle that only a handful of guys get arrested, if we accept the premise that football inherently creates a set of psychological conditions that makes players more likely to behave in a socially unacceptable manner? By Dayton’s logic the NFL is actually full of heroes who exhibit amazing self-control despite borderline brain damage.
Second question: why would a man who presumably wants to continue being active in the political world ever under any circumstances compare any sporting activity to combat in a war zone? Shouldn’t that be on page one of the How to be a Politician manual? “Don’t say professional athletes are soldiers. Cause they’re not. Soldiers face death for meager pay and the honor of service, professional athletes face injury for huge pay and so they can flash a big old ring at parties when they’re old and retired. Different situations. By a lot.”
Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, why the hell is the governor of Minnesota injecting himself into this conversation in the first place?
Well that’s obvious. It’s all about the stadium. That stadium the Vikings are building largely with public money? The one Dayton himself pushed for? Yeah, that stadium. So now here comes this supposedly upstanding pillar of the community, Adrian Peterson – cause this is all really about Adrian Peterson, hence the “handshake” reference – getting arrested in an alleged bar scuffle. This may give certain opponents of the stadium and Mr. Dayton a small amount of political ammunition, correct? Their argument might be something like, “We’re giving these people all this money to build their big playground and they’re just a bunch of miscreants? Shame on you governor Dayton. You took money we could’ve used on something noble like a library and gave it to guys who get in bar fights in the middle of the night.”
Something like that. Obviously Dayton feels this could be used against him so he’s getting out in front of it as they say in the political business. I don’t know though. His defense seems a tad clumsy. Maybe the reason players get arrested isn’t cause they’re borderline psychopaths as a result of playing a game that amounts to semi-controlled violence. Maybe it’s just cause they’re young and not very smart and like most young and not very smart people they occasionally do dumb things and get in trouble? And all that being young and sort of dumb just gets worse when your ego is all built up from people cheering for you and you’re rich?
Probably it’s not “they’re all psyched up from playing football and can’t re-adjust to society in the offseason.” If that were the case there’d be fifty guys getting arrested every summer and it wouldn’t just be bar fights and DUIs, it would be murders and robberies and crap. I mean, come on Dayton.