MN governor apologizes for comparing NFL players to war veterans - KMSP-TV

Gov. Dayton apologizes for comparing NFL players to war veterans

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) -

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton on Thursday issued an apology for comparing professional football players to returning war veterans.

In an interview, the governor said off-the-field issues among NFL players may be the result of psychological adjustments to regular society -- similar to the struggles and adjustments of returning soldiers.


"In a recent interview, I was asked why so many professional football players had difficulties off the field. I made a poor analogy, by saying that the psychological adjustments they have to make from their contests to normal society were not unlike the difficulties experienced by returning veterans.

"Some of the psychological dynamics may be similar; however, I, in no way, meant to compare their challenges with the traumas and hardships experienced by the heroes who fought in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. While I am a football fan, I reserve my highest respect and admiration for those courageous Americans in uniform, who risk their lives to keep us safe and to make the world more free.

"I regret my mistake, and I apologize for it."


Here's a portion of what Gov. Dayton told Minnesota Public Radio News in an interview on Tuesday, July 17:

"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 two-o'clock 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."

Excerpts the interview made national headlines, appearing on ESPN, Yahoo! and the Washington Post.

Dayton told FOX 9 News that a few people contacted his office to say they didn't appreciate his comments, but the governor said he made the apology because he regretted the statement and felt compelled.

"I apologize for it," Dayton said. "It was a poor choice of words and that happens. I'm human, and I make mistakes."


On Thursday, Dayton spoke at a fundraiser for the Wounded Warrior Project at the Eagle Street Grille. He apologized once more for his "poor analogy," and the veterans who spoke with FOX 9 News say they believe his apology is sincere and they are glad he corrected himself voluntarily.

"I'm just glad he apologized, because you don't see that very often in today's politicians," said Robert Marx.

Hamline University's political science professor, David Schultz, agreed that contrition and public apologies are rare in today's political climate -- and he pointed to Bachmann's reluctance to admit she misspoke as an example.

"Humility is a trait that he has that seems to be unique among politicians," Schultz said.


Dayton's comments originally came in defense of Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, who was arrested earlier this month at a Houston nightclub for an altercation with off-duty police officers.

Peterson said he is "200 percent innocent" and attorney Rusty Hardin says Peterson is the real victim and he's the one who was assaulted. According to Hardin, Peterson did not resist arrest and was struck by police for "no legitimate" reason.

"I didn't push, shove, touch anything to anyone that night, especially an officer," Peterson said. "I definitely don't have a problem with the Houston PD. This involves two individual officers that I have an issue with. Once everything is settled and to a head, the truth will come out."

Dayton said he believes that Peterson is a fine citizen and role model, but he did allow that other players get in trouble because of the behavior that results from an excess of free time.

Peterson is only facing a misdemeanor, but he still wants to get the charges cleared.


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