MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — For the NFL, it’s been an ugly start to the season.

The past week has been wracked with big football stars in the headlines for serious crimes.

A video surfaced of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice punching his fiancé. He’s since been suspended indefinitely from the NFL.

Now, Vikings running back Adrian Peterson is facing child abuse charges.

It all adds up to a public relations nightmare for the NFL.

“When they do something like that, it’s always sad to see it, because a lot of people look up to them,” said 14-year-old football fan Courtney Rock, of Pine River, Minn.

Communications consultant John Austin says from a public relations standpoint, the Vikings have handled Adrian Peterson’s arrest in the best way they could — by being proactive and deactivating Peterson for Sunday’s game.

“What often gets people in trouble is what happens after, what they do after the bad things happen,” he said, “and I think a lot of the criticism that’s being poured on the NFL this week has been on what [they did] after the Ray Rice incident occurred.”

Austin says it’s too early to tell to see what Peterson’s fate with the NFL is. He thinks fans will be more forgiving of the player than in Rice’s case, because people have varying views of what is acceptable child punishment.

“People may look at that and go, ‘Oh, that’s not normal discipline,’ or they may look at the other way and say, ‘OK, that’s in the realm maybe,'” he said.

Still, Austin says no matter what details come out of Peterson’s or Rice’s case, it is always possible to come back from a scandal.

“It’s not always easy, it’s not always successful, but there are plenty of cases where that can happen,” he said.

Kate Raddatz

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