…and why I wrote it
By Art Gallagher
As a political blogger, I expected that my story about former NFL player and convicted sex offender Christian Peter being on a Christie fund raising committee would be viewed in a political context. Both Democrats and Republicans asked me, “Why are you taking a shot at Christie?” “I’m not,” I replied, “I’m taking a shot at Peter. I am close to a few sexual assault survivors and I am related to recovering alcoholics. I don’t give sexual predators or addicts any slack.” “Yeah, right,” they said, “you’re taking a shot at Christie.” That’s they would be doing.
I confess, if I found out that Peter was on the host committee of a Menendez or Buono fundraiser, my inner partisan blogger would be inclined to make hay with that information. But I would wait until after the fundraiser. I would try to get photos taken at the fundraiser of Peter with the candidate and the other politicians present and then wait to use them to strike or counter-strike at the opportune time. That’s how the game is played, as they say. But sexual assault and the destructive wake of addiction is not a game for me.
So, my inner political blogger did my friends who will be attending the Christie fundraiser a favor. Most that of them that I talked to before I published the story had either forgotten about or never knew of Peter’s history of violence against women, even though it was written about just four months ago in the New York Times. Who would have guessed that my political friends don’t read the New York Times’ sports section? Now they know about Peter’s history. They can choose to pose for pictures with him, or have a drink with him, or not, with full knowledge of his history.
That’s part of why I wrote the story, but not the most important reason.
The story I wanted to write about Peter is a tale of how he’s turned his life around. A tale about his triumph over his demons. About how he’s made amends to the people he has hurt. I wanted to write about how he is making a difference for battered women and how he’s training young athletes not to make the mistakes he’s made.
That would have been a great story. With that story, Peter’s foray into political fundraising could have been a prelude to a political career. Unlikely, but perhaps a run for the 6th congressional district seat in 2014 in the event that Frank Pallone has the guts to give up the seat to take on Cory Booker in the Democratic U.S. Senate primary. That’s the story I wanted to write.
But I could not write it because I couldn’t find any evidence that it is true. Peter didn’t call me back, so I couldn’t ask him. One person I talked to said that Peter is a new man and is trying to help his community. But the person didn’t know any details and couldn’t point me to any verification.
My research into Peter raised some red flags.
The photos I licensed and published with the story appear to show Peter drinking at a public event in Asbury Park in January of 2012. He publicly blamed his alcoholism for his violence against women. If he is still drinking, is he still dangerous to women? He could have been drinking water or a soft drink in the red Solo cup. But during the only public appearance I could find since he retired from the NFL, he appears to be promoting a partying lifestyle. I would have preferred to see a public appearance making a difference for battered women or the men who are prone to prey on them.
Peter played his last game in the NFL for the Chicago Bears in 2002. Yet, in his bio on his insurance company website, he says he retired from the NFL in 2004. That discrepancy can be explained for sure, but it is still a fair question and a another red flag about an alcoholic. What did he do for those two years?
Why did he open a bar after retiring from the NFL? That’s a red flag for an alcoholic who blames his violence against women on alcohol.
Peter may have turned his life around. His recovery could be going strong. He could be quietly making a difference for battered women and then men prone to batter them. He’s publicly stated at press conferences (while attempting to salvage his football career) that he’s committed to his recovery and that he would volunteer to help battered women. If he is entering the political arena….being on the host committee of a fundraiser is entering the political arena…following up on his public statements is fair game and appropriate.
Alcoholics are more charming than, better liars than, and better con artists than most politicians.
Had Peter agreed to an interview, I would have asked him how his recovery is going. How has he done with the 9th step, Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others?
Peter’s first publicly known victim speaks to young athletes about the impact that the violence against women has. I would have asked him if he is aware of the impact his actions of had on the lives of his victims. I would have asked him what he is doing to educate young athletes and what he is doing for battered women. At his press conference in May of 1997, his rookie year with the Giants, he said he would “eventually” volunteer to help battered women. Has “eventually” come yet?
Because powerful people wanted to exploit Peter’s football talent, he was given multiple “second chances.” The University of Nebraska and Nebraska law enforcement authorities were the first, that we know of, to give Peter a break. The Giants gave him the opportunity to have an NFL career. Men with less exploitable talents have served long prison terms and are condemned to lives on sex offender directories for similar offenses. Now that his talents are no longer exploitable on the gridiron, how is Peter using his second chances? That’s what I would ask him.
Peter has blamed his violence against women on alcoholism. If he is still drinking, why is he no longer dangerous to women? I would have asked him if he is dangerous to women, why or why not?
Most men have no clue about the impact that rape has on the victims/survivors.
If we did, we wouldn’t have morons talking publicly about “legitimate rape.”
As a man who has witnessed the destructive impact of rape on the lives of more than one woman I care about, I am angry about it, but I don’t “get it.” I don’t think a male can “get it.” The thought of being forced into sex by a woman or women is just not terrifying to me. I don’t think it would ever happen. Women live everyday knowing that rape can happen to them. If it did happen to me, I don’t think it would be a life altering event. I would shake it off . I would probably “lay back and enjoy it.” Women aren’t wired that way. I wish the women I know who have been through it were wired that way, because I hate to see them suffer, even decades after the event. But they are not wired that way. Men need to get that.
Our society needs to deal with sexual violence with a better understanding of the impact it has on the lives of the survivors. Sexual assault is a life altering destructive crime. The injuries are permanent. Our legal and political systems still deal with sexual violence from a heterosexual male point of view and most men don’t “get it.” Least of all the perpetrators.
That’s why the Peter story is important and why I wrote it.
When the Giants gave Peter his chance at the NFL, Wellington Mara said he had earned it. Has he earned the prestige of being on this list? I’m not convinced. Would he be on this list if whoever put it together was aware of the history? I’m not convinced of that either.
But I’m just a guy who writes on the Internet.