Vikings address Adrian Peterson situation: 'We made a mistake. And we needed to get this right'

Less than two days after announcing that they were reinstating running back Adrian Peterson to the active roster, the Minnesota Vikings changed course early Wednesday.

Running back Adrian Peterson
Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson carries the ball against the St. Louis Rams during their NFL football game in St. Louis, Missouri, in this September 7, 2014 file photo. Peterson was briefly detained in a Texas jail early September 13, 2014 charged with injuring a child, according to the website of the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office. Jeff Curry/ USA TODAY

Less than two days after announcing that they were reinstating running back Adrian Peterson to the active roster, the Minnesota Vikings changed course early Wednesday. 

The Vikings placed Peterson, who faces a child-abuse charge, on the NFL's exempt/commissioner's permission list until his case is resolved. The move will keep him from participating in team activities, including games, for the foreseeable future. Nike also announced Wednesday that it has suspended its contract with Peterson.

Peterson will not be on the field Sunday when Minnesota plays the Saints in New Orleans.

"After giving the situation additional thought, we have decided this is the appropriate course of action for the organization and for Adrian," owners Zygi Wilf and Mark Wilf wrote in a statement issued at 12:47 a.m. CT. "We are always focused on trying to make the right decision as an organization. We embrace our role -- and the responsibilities that go with it -- as a leader in the community, as a business partner and as an organization that can build bridges with our fans and positively impact this great region. We appreciate and value the input we have received from our fans, our partners and the community."

The Vikings held a news conference later Wednesday to answer questions about their change of Peterson's status.


"We made a mistake. And we needed to get this right," Zygi Wilf said.

Mark Wilf added: "The main thing is getting it right, and that's how we came to this decision."

General manager Rick Spielman then added: "Our focus right now is to get this right. We admitted making a mistake. And we want to support Adrian."

Spielman reiterated that Peterson will stay on the exemption list until legal matters are resolved.

"This is a good decision that will allow Adrian Peterson to resolve his personal situation and the Vikings to return the focus to the football field," league spokesman Greg Aiello said earlier Wednesday.

Peterson was indicted last week in Montgomery County, Texas, on a felony count of reckless or negligent injury to a child. The charge stems from a whipping incident that left bruises and wounds on his 4-year-old son.

"This is the best possible outcome given the circumstances," Peterson's agent Ben Dogra told the Associated Press. "Adrian understands the gravity of the situation and this enables him to take care of his personal situation. We fully support Adrian and he looks forward to watching his teammates and coaches being successful during his absence."

It is up to a team whether to pay a player on the exempt list. The Vikings will continue to pay Peterson his full salary, which is $11.75 million this season. The players' association claimed the decision to sit was made by Peterson.


"Adrian Peterson made a decision to take a voluntary leave with pay to take care of his personal and legal issues," the NFL Players Association said in a statement. "The NFLPA and NFL worked with Adrian and the Minnesota Vikings to resolve this unique situation. We support this decision and hope the best for him and his family."

Sitting Peterson came after a few days of bad publicity for the Vikings. Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, a Vikings fan, took the team to task for reinstating Peterson. Radisson suspended its limited sponsorship of the team, and Anheuser-Busch, a major NFL sponsor, said it was "disappointed" and "increasingly concerned" by recent league incidents.

"It is an awful situation," Dayton said in a statement. "Yes, Mr. Peterson is entitled to due process and should be 'innocent until proven guilty.' However, he is a public figure; and his actions, as described, are a public embarrassment to the Vikings organization and the State of Minnesota. Whipping a child to the extent of visible wounds, as has been alleged, should not be tolerated in our state. Therefore, I believe the team should suspend Mr. Peterson, until the accusations of child abuse have been resolved by the criminal justice system."

Nike, with which Peterson had a high-paying shoe and apparel deal, announced its suspension on Wednesday.

"Nike in no way condones child abuse or domestic violence of any kind and we have shared our concerns with the NFL," the company said in an emailed statement.

Peterson re-upped with Nike in March 2013 on the heels of his 2,000-yard rushing season. Nike also serves as official uniform sponsor of the league and, according to CBS Sports Chicago, the company is in contact with the NFL about next steps with Peterson. Peterson's case might not be heard in Texas until early next year. His next scheduled court date is Oct. 8, unless he negotiates to have the matter resolved at an earlier date.

Peterson was indicted Friday on charges of child neglect. Pictures and text messages support allegations that Peterson whipped his 4-year-old son with a tree branch to the point of visible wounds.

Peterson was deactivated by the Vikings for Sunday's game against the New England Patriots.


Spielman had announced Monday that while the Vikings "take child welfare seriously," Peterson would be reinstated this week to afford him due process in the court system.

Peterson issued a statement Monday but said his attorney, Rusty Hardin, advised him not to address the facts of the case.

"I want everyone to understand how sorry I feel about the hurt I have brought to my child," Peterson's statement read. "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."

On Monday, Houston television station KHOU reported the running back was accused of another incident involving another of his 4-year-old sons a year ago.

No charges were filed regarding that incident, and Hardin denied the allegations.


Peterson shunned by sponsors, governor alike

What To Read Next
Get Local