Dayton comparison of athletes to soldiers draws apology

Gov. Mark Dayton has apologized for comparing athletes’ on-field trauma to that suffered by military personnel.

“Some of the psychological dynamics may be similar,” Dayton said in a statement released Thursday. “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.”

Dayton said he made a “poor analogy” in a Tuesday Minnesota Public Radio interview in which he said players are “heavily armored, heavily psyched to do what they have to do and go out there. It’s, basically, slightly civilized war.”

In the interview, he said football players “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.”

He was commenting on recent news accounts indicating that more Vikings than players on other professional football teams get into legal trouble. The most recent was star running back Adrian Peterson being arrested in a Houston bar.

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