Adrian Peterson not in the clear just yet

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Photo above: #28 Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings scoring a TD against the Arizona Cardinals.

On the surface, it would appear Adrian Peterson is receiving preferential treatment if reports of a plea deal are true. The deal supposedly finds him guilty of one misdemeanor count of reckless assault on a child and includes 80 hours of community service as part of the deal.

For those of us who saw the photos, it is easy to think the courts let him off with a slap on the wrist. However, Adrian Peterson probably received the same deal the average Joe would have received if he had done the same thing.

In case you have forgotten, our court system is swamped with more cases than there is time or man-power to prosecute. To ensure the accused their right to a speedy trial, plea deals are struck on what are deemed low-level cases in order to free up court time for more serious crimes.

The average person who goes too far when dishing out punishment to their child does not usually end up as the lead story in the news as Peterson did. Like it or not, Adrian Peterson was never going to receive a fair trial in front of an unbiased jury so a plea deal made sense all around.

Unfortunately, we live in a time in which criminals who have committed far more serious crimes are being let out of prison early due to a lack of space. While most Americans support harsher penalties for criminals of all levels, they tend to oppose seeing new prisons built in their communities.

Adrian Peterson is not being let off easy. His crime may well result in him losing his career as a professional football player. If he were named Chris Brown, he’d still have his career.

And even if Peterson does return to the NFL, it will come with a steep cost. No one will sign him to the lucrative contract he had with the Minnesota Vikings. Instead, he can look forward to an offer that includes the veterans minimum and performance based incentives. The Vikings could take him back but I doubt their new coach or the team wants to see him return along with all of the drama that will follow.

Peterson also has to answer to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.  Given the manner in which Goodell botched the Ray Rice punishment, you can bet Goodell will not make the same mistake a second time.

Finally, Adrian Peterson has a bigger issue down the road, one that may well land him in prison. You see, when you are famous, like Adrian Peterson, and you go too far in disciplining your child, the press starts to snoop around into other aspects of your life and begin to dig up dirt. When that digging results in uncovering irregularities with the finances of your charity, it often results in a much larger investigation by Uncle Sam and the taxman.

Adrian Peterson may well end up doing time, not for the marks he left on his kid with a tree branch, but rather for the marks he left on his tax return. After all, there is always room in prison when you cheat the government out of money.