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Vikings’ Zimmer wants Peterson decision ‘ASAP’

By Brian Murphy St. Paul Pioneer Press MINNEAPOLIS -- Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said Tuesday he would welcome back Adrian Peterson "if he gets his life in order" after the star running back served what amounted to a 15-game banishment for harshly...

By Brian Murphy

St. Paul Pioneer Press

MINNEAPOLIS - Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said Tuesday he would welcome back Adrian Peterson “if he gets his life in order” after the star running back served what amounted to a 15-game banishment for harshly punishing his 4-year-old son.

During his season-ending news conference, Zimmer reiterated his support for Peterson and said it was important to determine the running back’s future soon so the team can efficiently plan for the 2015 season.

“As I’ve said many, many times: Adrian was always great with me. I think he’s a good person,” Zimmer said. “Obviously, he’s a great running back. If it works out that way, things work out and he gets his life in order - that’s the most important thing, he gets his life in order - and he gets the opp-ortunity to come back, then I will be in his corner.”

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Peterson and the Players Association are suing the NFL in federal court for reinstatement. Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended him Nov. 18 for the remainder of the 2014 season and banished him from the Vikings until at least April 15 after Peterson pleaded down a felony child abuse charge to misdemeanor assault in Texas.

“Our hands are partly tied with the NFL and what the timeframe they give us,” Zimmer said. “Also, it’s partly up to Adrian to do what he needs to do in order to get reinstated off the suspension. Those are all factors.”

In the letter announcing the suspension, Goodell harshly criticized Peterson’s decision to use a switch to whip his 4-year-old son.

Photos of the resulting injuries led a grand jury in Montgomery County, Texas, to indict Peterson, and a restraining order against Peterson was issued in Hennepin County.

Goodell ordered Peterson to undergo psychiatric treatment and establish behavioral benchmarks before he would consider reinstating him.

In a lawsuit filed Dec. 15 in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis, the NFLPA argues the 15-game suspension - including nine paid games Peterson while on the commissioner’s “exempt list” - is punishment “wildly disparate” from previous domestic violence cases.

No hearing has been scheduled.

“I don’t know that it’s my job to decide on fair,” Zimmer said when asked about Peterson’s punishment. “It’s just what it is and what they decided. If I said it was fair or unfair, it wouldn’t matter. The outcome is still the same at this point.”

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Peterson, 29, is due $13 million in 2015 but the team can release him without any financial liability. Free agency starts March 10, and rosters generally are finalized between then and the April 30-May 2 NFL Draft.

“We would love to know ASAP so we can start going,” Zimmer said. “A guy like him, your football team and your offense can be different if you have him or don’t have him. It’s how you want to build the team around him.”

Peterson negotiated a deal with Texas prosecutors and pleaded no contest Nov. 4 to a Class A misdemeanor of reckless assault in exchange for a sentence that did not include jail time.

A judge ordered Peterson to pay a $4,000 fine and perform 80 hours of community service, which is scheduled to start next month.

The Pioneer Press is a media partner with the Forum News Service.

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