A longtime NFL writer is under fire after including a racially-charged paragraph in a column about former Vikings running back Adrian Peterson.
Peterson, who was indicted in 2014 for reckless and negligent injury of his then-4-year-old son, is expected to received a good amount of attention from a number of teams during free agency, including the Dallas Cowboys (the Eagles have shown no interest in the 31-year-old).
Longtime Green Bay Gazette writer Pete Dougherty thinks the Packers should go after Peterson, making a case in a recent column that the all-pro running back still has a number of productive football seasons ahead of him.
Dougherty also thinks Peterson paid his penalty for his misdeeds, comparing the six-game suspension he served in 2014 to the time former Eagles quarterback Michael Vick spent in jail following a conviction over an illegal dog-fighting ring.
But Doughtery's defense of Peterson took an odd turn when he included a controversial explanation of why he thought the former Vikings running back harshly punished his son:
Let's also not forget that Peterson likely is descended from slaves who suffered savage disciplinary beatings generation after genration after generation. It excuses nothing but also can't be ignored. This is learned behavior.
The paragraph has since been removed from Dougherty’s column, and an editor’s note now appears at the top of the story:
A paragraph in an earlier version of Pete Dougherty’s column that included a reference to Peterson’s punishment of his 4-year-old son being connected to America’s history of slavery was removed. It was poorly reasoned and insensitive. We apologize to all readers who were offended.
New York Times Magazine writer and David Carr fellow Greg Howard was among the first to point out Dougherty’s column:
hot damn let's get the day started pic.twitter.com/TtNDS8A4MC
— Greg Howard (@greghoward88) March 3, 2017
ESPN Radio host Bomani Jones had a big problem with Dougherty’s reasoning:
if @PeteDougherty can explain behavior because black folks descend from slaves, he ever extend that to the descendants of slave masters?
— El Flaco (@bomani_jones) March 3, 2017
CNN host Soledad O'Brien could only manage two words in response to the column:
Well, wow https://t.co/JVyGy7pmp5
— Soledad O'Brien (@soledadobrien) March 3, 2017
The column first appeared on PackersNews.com, a website that includes content from writers from the Press-Gazette and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, which are both owned by Gannett. It also appeared on USA Today's website.
In a statement Friday, editor Robert Zizzo called it "a huge mistake in judgment by a reporter and failed oversight by editors."
Doughtery did not respond to a request for comment.