MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Minnesota Vikings owners admitted Wednesday that they made a mistake when it came to the decisions regarding RB Adrian Peterson’s status with the team, after last week’s child abuse charges surfaced.
“We made a mistake and we needed to get this right,” owner Zygi Wilf said during a press conference at Winter Park.
Overnight, the Vikings placed Peterson on the Exempt/Commissioner’s Permission list, which requires that he remain away from all team activities. It was a complete reversal from the decision they announced on Monday to let Peterson play against the Saints.
The Wilfs said they support Peterson during his legal and personal matters but at this time, they feel this is the right decision, after further discussion.
VIDEO: “We Made A Mistake”
“We value this community,” said Mark Wilf. “The Minnesota Vikings are such an important part to this state, the upper Midwest and all of our fans around the world, so we appreciate their input, them, the sponsors, the fans, the community, very much so. In the end though, however, as ownership and as stewards of this great franchise, we had to make the right decision and whatever that took to get us there, we’re going to get there and we’re always striving to do that.”
The NFL Players Association claims Peterson “made a decision to take a voluntary leave with pay to take care of his personal and legal issues” relating to last week’s child abuse charges. However, Vikings leaders said it was the team that requested the move.
General Manager Rick Spielman said Peterson will remain on the exempt list until his legal matter is resolved. But made clear that he will not be released.
In a press release from the team’s owners (which was released after midnight), Zygi and Mark Wilf said they decided to revisit the situation after several conversations with the NFL, but said Wednesday they were not pressured by the NFL in any way.
“In conversations with the NFL over the last two days, the Vikings advised the League of the team’s decision to revisit the situation regarding Adrian Peterson,” they said. “While we were trying to make a balanced decision yesterday, after further reflection we have concluded that this resolution is best for the Vikings and for Adrian.”
On Wednesday morning, the NFLPA said that they worked with Peterson and the Vikings to resolve the “unique situation,” adding that the organization supports the decision and they “hope the best for him and his family.”
WCCO’s David McCoy said according to a source, top Vikings officials had extremely late, complicated discussions and only recently came to this decision, hence its late-night timing.
When questioned on the timing of this reverse decision, Mark Wilf said, “it’s never too late to get it right.”
They also said the decision was not related to concerns from the team’s sponsors. The announcement came at the tail end of a day during which many organizations and corporations suspended their deals with the Vikings or severed ties with Peterson. One of its biggest sponsors, the Radisson hotel chain, announced it would be suspending its sponsorship with the Vikings. Meanwhile, Nike, Castrol Motor Oil, Special Olympics Minnesota and Mylan Inc. all severed ties with Peterson. Twin Cities Nike stores as well as Target stores (and Target.com) have also pulled Peterson’s jerseys from their shelves.
Peterson will have to stay away from all team activities until the legal proceedings are done, which could take months.
On this exempt list, Peterson still stands to make more than $11 million this season.
The Vikings wouldn’t say if he’ll play for the team again but legal experts say this move could pave the way for a plea deal in Peterson’s child abuse case, which could happen faster.
A statement from Peterson’s attorney said, “he is prepared to resolve this matter in the appropriate legal forum rather than the court of public opinion.”
Peterson was indicted in Texas last Friday on child abuse charges for allegedly striking his 4-year-old son multiple times with a switch, or a branch from a tree.
“We want to be clear: we have a strong stance regarding the protection and welfare of children, and we want to be sure we get this right. At the same time we want to express our support for Adrian and acknowledge his seven-plus years of outstanding commitment to this organization and this community,” the Wilfs said in the overnight press release. “Adrian emphasized his desire to avoid further distraction to his teammates and coaches while focusing on his current situation; this resolution accomplishes these objectives as well.”
Adrian Peterson tweeted out a photo not long after the Vikings made the announcement:
Peterson’s agent Ben Dogra told the Associated Press, “This is the best possible outcome given the circumstances.”
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