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  • Ditka has lots of opinions.

The other day I came across an old Mike Royko column that reminded me the Republican Party started hating Hillary Clinton even before her husband was elected president.

When Royko wrote, the 1992 Republican National Convention was about to begin, and party leaders were dishing up red meat to the faithful. Royko mocked the Republicans for sounding so ticked off by something Clinton had written almost 20 years earlier about the legal rights of children. Under the law, Clinton wrote in 1973, children were “almost powerless to articulate their own interests.” She considered this unfortunate, and she compared children to other legally helpless classes of people past and present, such as slaves—and married women. Jumping on this observation, the chairman of the Republican Party had just said Clinton “likened marriage and the family to slavery.” (Speaking to the convention, Pat Buchanan would ask, “What does Hillary believe?” and continue, “Well, Hillary believes that 12-year-olds should have a right to sue their parents.”

Royko commented in 1992 that if the Republicans truly believed children should be beaten but not heard they should endorse child abuse in their party platform. And I—reading Royko’s column 22 years later—thought, well, that’s a fight even the Republicans wouldn’t pick today.

But I’m not so sure.

On Tuesday NFL commissioner Roger Goodell suspended the Minnesota Vikings’ Adrian Peterson for the rest of the season, and perhaps longer, for abusing his four-year-old son and not wishing he hadn’t. The Tribune‘s David Haugh reported, “Peterson acknowledged punishing the boy with a stick badly enough to leave marks on his legs, ankles and genitals.” The boy had “leaves stuck in his mouth while his dad struck him with a branch,” and the only thing Peterson denies is having any idea “others would consider this abusive.”

“Goodell did what a little boy couldn’t and a Texas court didn’t,” wrote Haugh—”hold Peterson accountable for society’s most heinous act: child abuse.”

That accountability is what Hillary Clinton was championing back in the 70s. Even today, everyone isn’t convinced it’s appropriate.

In the Tuesday Sun-Times, Mike Ditka was asked if Goodell did the right thing when he suspended Peterson. No, said Ditka.

“The commissioner is out of line. What [Peterson] did was discipline his kid. Did he do it the right way? No. Maybe he thought he did. But I’m not privy to that. But I know one thing; If you are a parent in this world today and you don’t discipline your child when they’re growing up, they’ll probably grow up to be bad people. That’s all I’m going to tell you.”

But Ditka had more to say and said it. He had perspective to contribute:

“I think the commissioner should have reinstated him. First of all, it’s not about finances. It’s not about getting paid. What it’s about is his self-respect, dignity and honor. Maybe he did screw up, but, my God, who hasn’t screwed up. There are a lot of guys doing a lot more stupid things in the league today than what he did.”

All parents make mistakes. Do we want judges and commissioners looking over their shoulders as they try to bring their kids up right? Mike Ditka could have shared his views at the 1992 Republican convention and gotten a big hand. If he offers them at the convention in 2016, I doubt if he’ll be greeted as a dinosaur.