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Bernstein: Peterson, Howard Abuse Cases Painfully Similar

By Dan Bernstein- senior columnist

(CBS) On the very same day, one chapter ended as another began. Both stories are troubling and terribly sad, remarkably alike and probably all too common.

As the Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was shelved for the season Tuesday by Roger Goodell and the NFL for his sadistic beating of his four-year-old son, news broke that Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard was under a second investigation for doing the same to one of his.

Just as Peterson was initially unindicted by a Texas grand jury that later had a change of heart, Howard too was cleared by Florida authorities after a doctor found that his son sustained injuries from a belt. Per TMZ, six-year-old Braylon Reed had abrasions and bruises "consistent with Braylon being struck with the buckle end of the belt … with excessive force, resulting in soft tissue injuries." NBC News has reported that Howard told police that he indeed used the belt and that he did this to his son because he was disciplined that way himself.

Now, officials in Georgia say new information has surfaced, and Howard could face criminal charges there.

Again with admittedly beating little kids. Again with the shaming of the mother by lawyers and again with the sickening responses from the defenders of this kind of barbarism perpetrated against those most defenseless.

Howard may escape legal punishment, but it's clear that he battered his young son with a belt, like Peterson did to his with a branch.

These are two decorated professional athletes who have recklessly sired multiple children with multiple women, with the actual totals of how many for each unclear amid the irresponsible mess of it all. Both find ample time to create children and later attack them violently, in a lovely lifestyle of the rich and famous. You may not see daddy very often, kid, but he's happy to fly in every once in a while to make you scream and bleed.

Peterson and Howard were both raised in the south – Texas and Georgia, respectively – where this kind of thing is seen as acceptable, passed down from generation to generation as a rite of passage. Neither one of them can quite see what the fuss is all about, because this is just what people do in their culture.

And both are outwardly religious in that same manner that always is hiding something sinister.

Here's Peterson, to The 700 Club: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. You got the devil, and he's got those darts. So you can choose to bite on those or you can choose to block them out. Just listen to the thoughts that God put in there."

The devil may have darts, but Peterson's better with a stick when it comes to tearing the flesh of a four-year-old boy in a dedicated "Whippin' Room."

And then there's Howard.

"I want to be able to speak to non-Christians that I can get them saved or change their lives around," he told ESPN just before he was drafted by the Orlando Magic. He said he wanted his career to "raise the name of God within the league and throughout the world."

That's instead of actually raising his own children of course, short of introducing them to the business end of his belt.

These are two big, dangerous phonies, with neither caring to understand that the brutal beating of children is wrong. One has been punished both by the court and by his employers, the other waiting to hear his fate. The NBA and Adidas can act as the NFL and Nike did already, regardless of the current investigation's outcome.

Howard said he inflicted what the doctor saw on that child. It's enough. It's enough of all of it.

Dan Bernstein is a co-host of 670 The Score's "Boers and Bernstein Show" in afternoon drive. Follow him on Twitter @dan_bernstein and read more of his columns here.

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