Vikings say Peterson will play, Peterson says he's 'not a child abuser'
By Chris Tomasson St. Paul Pioneer Press MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Vikings announced Monday that Adrian Peterson will return to practice this week and play in Sunday's game at New Orleans despite having been indicted last week in Texas on a fe...
By Chris Tomasson
St. Paul Pioneer Press
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Vikings announced Monday that Adrian Peterson will return to practice this week and play in Sunday’s game at New Orleans despite having been indicted last week in Texas on a felony charge of injury to a child. That was followed by Peterson releasing a statement that said, “I am, without a doubt, not a child abuser.”
The star running back was deactivated for the Vikings’ 30-7 home loss to New England on Sunday. The Vikings learned Friday of the charges against Peterson, who admitted hitting his 4-year-old son with a tree branch in May to discipline him.
“(Monday’s) decision was made after extensive thought, discussion and consideration,” Vikings general manager Rick Spielman said. “On Friday, there was a significant amount of uncertainty and information coming in. We felt it was best to step back and evaluate the situation and keep Adrian out of the game.
“Over the weekend and early (Monday) morning, we gathered as much information as we possibly could, had multiple conversations with Adrian’s attorneys and met several times with Adrian personally. Based on all that, we made a decision that we felt was the right decision at the time.”
Spielman said the Vikings have been in contact with the NFL, but “the decision to play Adrian is made by this organization.”
That decision was announced Monday morning by Vikings co-owners Zygi and Mark Wilf. In a statement, they said they believe it is up to the courts to determine Peterson’s fate.
“We take very seriously any matter that involves the welfare of a child,” the statement read. “At this time, however, we believe this is a matter of due process and we should allow the legal system to proceed so we can come to the most effective conclusions and then determine the appropriate course of action. This is a difficult path to navigate, and our focus is on doing the right thing.”
Peterson turned himself in to authorities in Montgomery, Texas, early Saturday morning and was released on a $15,000 bail. His first court appearance is Oct. 8.
Peterson did not speak to reporters Monday. He released a 486-word statement in which he said he would not discuss “the facts of my pending case,” but did express how bad he said he feels.
“I want everyone to understand how sorry I feel about the hurt I have brought to my child,” he said in the statement. “I never wanted to be a distraction to the Vikings organization, the Minnesota community or to my teammates. I never imagined being in a position where the world is judging my parenting skills or calling me a child abuser because of the discipline I administered to my son. … I am not a perfect son. I am not a perfect husband. I am not a perfect parent, but I am, without a doubt, not a child abuser.”
Peterson said what has happened since the incident regarding his child has been difficult and he has met with a psychologist.
“I have to live with the fact that when I disciplined my son the way I was disciplined as a child, I caused an injury that I never intended or thought would happen,” Peterson said. “I know that many people disagree with the way I disciplined my child. I also understand after meeting with a psychologist that there are other alternative ways of disciplining a child that may be more appropriate.”
Vikings players welcomed Peterson back and were supportive of the decision by the team to restore him to the active roster. Of about 10 players who spoke on the matter, none said anything to the contrary.
“I was hoping that would be the case, and I’m glad he’s back and we’re going to support him and move forward with him,” said fullback Jerome Felton, a good friend of Peterson’s. “I know he was hurting a lot (when) he couldn’t be with us Sunday. I’m sure he’s glad to be back. I haven’t gotten to talk to him a lot. … I’m sure those conversations will happen.”
Wide receiver Jarius Wright saw no problem with Peterson missing just one game.
“Me personally, (I think) he didn’t do anything wrong,” Wright said. “So as long as we had him deactivated, I don’t think it was too short.”
Photos have surfaced showing the injuries to the child after he was disciplined by Peterson. Spielman did acknowledge they are difficult to look at.
“When you look at the photos, the photos are disturbing. I understand that,” Spielman said. “But to be clear, any matter that’s involving the child is very important for this organization. But we also think it is right for him to go through the process legally.”
Spielman said he didn’t learn of the “formal allegations” against Peterson until last Friday. He wouldn’t say when he first heard about the situation, but he said he didn’t know anything about it when it initially happened.
Spielman’s news conference Monday got testy at times. He was asked if the Vikings would have made the same move with a player who is not a star, and the general manager said they would.
“Based upon the extensive information that we have right now and what we know about Adrian right now as a person, but what he also has done for this community, we believe he deserves to play while the legal process plays out,” Spielman said. “At the same time, we just defer to the legal system whether he went too far. But we cannot make that judgment.”
Peterson’s arrest concluded a difficult week in the NFL. It began with a video surfacing of running back Ray Rice punching his then-fiancée and now-wife in an elevator. After the video emerged, the Baltimore Ravens released Rice, and the NFL changed what had been a two-game suspension into an indefinite one.
“It was unexpected, that’s for sure,” quarterback Christian Ponder said of Peterson being brought back Monday. “Obviously the league’s dealing with a lot of different issues right now. It stinks having a teammate going through this. We’ll see what happens… We love Adrian and we’re here to support him with everything that’s going on. I’m not going to comment on whether I agree or disagree with what happened. That’s his decision as a father.”
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