MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The Minnesota Vikings announced Monday morning that running back Adrian Peterson will practice this week and play Sunday at New Orleans. Hours later, Peterson issued a statement on the incident, opening up about the child abuse allegations for the first time.
The Vikings deactivated Peterson on Friday after news surfaced that he was indicted in Texas on charges of child abuse after he admitted to disciplining his 4-year-old son back in May with a switch.
Peterson flew to Texas on Saturday, turned himself into authorities, posted $15,000 bail and was released. He immediately returned to Minnesota. Though he was deactivated, Peterson has not been suspended by the NFL, which means he’s eligible to play once the Vikings activate him.
Peterson released a statement through his attorney Monday afternoon, saying while he can’t discuss the facts of the case, he wanted the public to hear from him.
“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,” Peterson wrote.
He said he voluntarily appeared before the grand jury in May to answer any and all questions, and prior to that, he agreed to be interviewed by two police agencies without his attorney. He said during those interviews, he stated that he never intended to hurt his son.
“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. 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,” he wrote.
Going forward, Peterson said he will take a different approach to the way he disciplines his son. However, he does not view what he did as “child abuse.”
“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. I am someone that disciplined his child and did not intend to cause him any injury,” he writes.
Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman addressed the media Monday, reiterating the team’s decision and saying it was one they felt was best, based on all the information they obtained.
“What we know about Adrian not only as a person but what he’s done for this community, we believe he deserves to play while the legal process plays out,” he said.
Spielman said they met with Peterson several times to discuss the case, took a step back and evaluated the situation to the best of their abilities.
He said the issue of child welfare is “extremely serious and should be taken seriously by us and by everyone.” But Spielman made clear they believe it is up to the legal system to decide if Peterson went too far.
“When you look at the photos, the photos are disturbing but to be clear, any matter that’s involving the child is very important to this organization but we also think it is right for him to go through this process legally,” he said.
Rick Spielman On Peterson
Spielman’s comments echoed a statement released by Vikings management Monday morning on the decision to allow Peterson to play on Sunday.
“Today’s decision was made after significant thought, discussion and consideration. As evidenced by our decision to deactivate Adrian from yesterday’s game, this is clearly a very important issue,” Owners Zygi and Mark Wilf said in a statement. “On Friday, we felt it was in the best interests of the organization to step back, evaluate the situation, and not rush to judgment given the seriousness of this matter. At that time, we made the decision that we felt was best for the Vikings and all parties involved.
To be clear, we take very seriously any matter that involves the welfare of a child. 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. Currently we believe we are at a juncture where the most appropriate next step is to allow the judicial process to move forward.”
Zygi and Mark Wilf were not in attendance at Monday’s press conference.
The Vikings said Monday evening that during their investigation, the team learned about another allegation against Adrian Peterson involving one of his kids.
Peterson’s lawyer said in a statement that the accusation was, “shopped around to authorities in two states” and nothing came of it.
He said an adult witness adamantly insists Peterson did nothing inappropriate in the incident over a year ago.
Peterson did not attend Sunday’s game at TCF Bank Stadium as the Vikings lost to the New England Patriots 30-7.
Coach Mike Zimmer also addressed the media on Monday, but deferred questions regarding the decision to play Adrian Peterson to Spielman. He said he was involved in the decision to reactivate Peterson but that it was an ownership call — and he’s not sure how much input he had.
Zimmer encouraged teammates who disagree with Peterson’s parenting choices, to voice those concerns.
Press Conference: Coach Mike Zimmer