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'DWTS': Controversial NFL star Adrian Peterson eliminated, fans take a victory lap

Peterson and his pro partner Britt Stewart performed a "Dumbo"-themed Viennese waltz to the song "Baby Mine."

Adrian Peterson was voted off Dancing With the Stars.
Adrian Peterson was voted off Dancing With the Stars. (ABC)
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After a night that was all about celebrating 100 years of Disney magic on Dancing With the Stars, it was former NFL star Adrian Peterson who went home with a result that was welcomed by many viewers.

Peterson was considered a controversial casting when he was announced in September, given his checkered legal past involving reckless assault on his son. But he managed to last a few weeks into the season before finally failing to earn enough of America’s vote on Tuesday.

Here’s a look at how his night went and what makes him such a contentious cast member, plus a glance at how the rest of the show played out.

Adrian’s night

With every couple’s dance themed to a different Disney movie, Peterson and his partner Britt Stewart performed a Dumbo-themed Viennese waltz to the song “Baby Mine.” They received all 7’s from the judges — an improvement from previous weeks — which was tied with or better than five other teams out of the 11 competing.

But since DWTS combines judges’ scores with viewer voting results, they found themselves in the bottom three at the end of the two-hour show, along with Barry Williams and partner Peta Murgatroyd and Lele Pons with partner Brandon Armstrong.

In the end Peterson, who fell short of the goal line (football reference anyone?), was eliminated. He called his partner Stewart “a heck of a coach” and his journey “lovely” before saying goodbye.

Peterson's departure comes two weeks after another somewhat controversial cast member was eliminated in Jamie Lynn Spears, whose exit spurred a revival of the #FreeBritney movement.

Adrian’s past

There were definitely plenty of viewers reacting favorably to the result on social media because of Peterson's legal history. And here’s why:

Back in September 2014, the NFL running back was indicted by a grand jury in Texas on charges of reckless or negligent injury to a child stemming from an incident that occurred earlier that year when one of his children was visiting him. The police report included details like Peterson admitting that he did “whoop” one of his kids, and the boy telling the doctor that Peterson hit him with “a branch of a tree.”

In November 2014, Peterson reached a plea agreement and pleaded no contest to misdemeanor reckless assault of his son. He avoided a jail sentence and was put on probation, fined $4,000 and ordered to undergo 80 hours of community service. He was also suspended for the remainder of the 2014 NFL season without pay. He returned to the league the following season and played for another six.

Peterson made headlines again in February 2022 when he was arrested by the Los Angeles Airport Police for a domestic violence incident that involved his wife, Ashley Peterson, on a LAX flight to Houston, Tex. Because of the altercation, the plane was forced to return to the airport gate. He posted a $50,000 bond later that day and was released. His wife later released a statement saying that he didn’t hit or strike her and that it was just a verbal argument. The charges were later dropped.

Viewer reactions

There were some viewers reacting on X, formerly Twitter, who thought Peterson should have stayed based on his dancing, but most who commented enjoyed the “gift” of Peterson being sent home.

The rest of the Disney 100 night

After opening with the pros dancing to “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” from Encanto, the rest of Dancing With the Stars also featured songs from movies like Lady and the Tramp, The Lion King, Toy Story, Cinderella, Fantasia and more.

The top four scorers of the night were Xochitl Gomez (27), Ariana Madix (25), Charity Lawson (24) and Jason Mraz (24). They danced to songs from the movies Coco, Frozen II, The Little Mermaid and Aladdin, respectively.

Looking ahead

Next week’s show will pay tribute to the late former head judge Len Goodman and feature the return of familiar faces from the show’s past in doing so.

Dancing With the Stars airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on ABC and Disney+, and streams the following day on Hulu.