Dayton apologizes for NFL, war vet comparison

Mark Dayton (David Sherman/Getty)

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton said he regretted his comparison of NFL players in the offseason to veterans returning from war.

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton apologized Thursday for comparing NFL players in trouble with the law to veterans returning from war.

The first-term Democrat said in a statement that he made a poor analogy when he used the comparison in an interview Tuesday with Minnesota Public Radio.

In that interview, Dayton theorized on the troubles of professional football players, including Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, and said that football was "basically slightly civilized war."

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

Spokeswoman Katie Tinucci said Dayton had heard from some constituents on the comments and regretted the comparison when he looked back on what he said.

The governor says some of the "psychological dynamics" may be similar but he didn't mean to compare the NFL players' problems to the hardships experienced by war heroes from Iraq and Afghanistan. Dayton says he reserves his highest respect for soldiers in uniform.

Peterson faces a misdemeanor charge of resisting arrest after a confrontation with an off-duty police officer at a Houston night club. His next court date is Aug. 6.

Dayton defended Peterson in the MPR interview as "an upstanding citizen and really fine role model." He noted that NFL players are off about half the year – more than athletes from other sports.

"It means that young males who are heavily armored and heavily psyched as necessary to carry out their job are probably more susceptible to be in bars at 2 o'clock in the morning and have problems, or DUIs. It doesn't excuse it, it just says that it probably comes with it," Dayton said.

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