ST. PAUL, Minn. - Fallout from an off-the-cuff remark by Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton prompted an apology Thursday.
During an interview with Minnesota Public Radio News Tuesday Dayton defended Vikings running back Adrian Peterson's current legal woes, but also compared football to combat, calling it "slightly civilized war."
He said he doesn't excuse bad behavior, but said adjusting to normal life is a challenge.
The comments set off a firestorm of criticism from people who believe the governor's comparison belittles the sacrifice made by those serving in Afghanistan, Iraq and previous conflicts.
Dayton issued a written apology Thursday morning.
"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."
But some psychology experts say the governor's mistake is common.
"Coaches for decades have certainly used analogies, where 'We're going to battle,' or sometimes, 'We're going to war,'" said Dr. John Tauer, a University of St. Thomas Professor and head basketball coach.
Tauer said it's always risky for people to take that analogy too far.
"When you start to draw parallels or close parallels, I think that's where people become pretty sensitive or even uncomfortable with it," he said.
During Tuesday's interview Dayton also noted that NFL players have half the year off, giving them plenty of time to find activities that aren't necessarily positive.
"Idle time is the devil's play," Dayton told MPR host Kerri Miller while describing the NFL's six-month offseason. "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 2 o'clock (in the morning) and having problems. It doesn't excuse it. It just says this probably comes with it."
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