The NFL received a brief respite from a week of bad press during Sunday’s slate of games. But on Monday, it was back to business as usual.
Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson – indicted Friday on a child-injury charge after he used a switch to discipline his 4-year-old son – has been reinstated by the team, one day after being declared inactive for their game against the New England Patriots. A trial date for the 2012 NFL MVP has yet to be set, and as such, the Vikings decided to let Peterson return while the legal process plays itself out.
“Today’s decision was made after significant thought, discussion and consideration,” owners Zygi Wilf and Mrak Wilf said in a joint statement issued by the team. “As evidenced by our decision to deactivate Adrian from yesterday’s game, this is clearly a very important issue. 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,” the statement continues. “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.”
On Monday afternoon, Peterson posted a statement on Twitter, saying he never wanted to be a distraction to his team or community. He also added that, while his attorney has instructed him not to discuss details of his impending case, he felt the need to address some of the criticisms levied against him.
“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,” his statement read in part. “I am someone that disciplined his child and did not intend to cause him any injury. No one can understand the hurt that I feel for my son and for the harm I caused him. My goal is always to teach my son right from wrong and that’s what I tried to do that day.”
Peterson is expected to play in Minnesota’s Week 3 game against the New Orleans Saints. Without him on Sunday, the Vikings were trounced by the Patriots 30-7.
Meanwhile, Ray Rice, indefinitely suspended last week following the release of a video that showed him punching his then-fiancée, will reportedly appeal his NFL ban. The former Raven was first released by his team, then barred by the league, though the NFL did not officially notify the Players Association of his suspension until Friday, meaning he has until 11:59 p.m. ET on Tuesday – three business days after that notification – to file a grievance.
According to reports, Rice is also considering taking legal action against the NFL, noting the double-jeopardy aspect of his suspension.
In July, months after the release of security camera footage that showed Rice dragging his unconscious fiancée out of an elevator at the Revel Casino Hotel, he was given a two-game suspension by the league. That paltry penalty earned commissioner Roger Goodell no shortage of criticism and forced the league to re-work its policy on domestic violence cases – though there is increased attention on whether the NFL knew about the second video before they handed out the two-game ban. Last week, Goodell announced an “independent investigation” into the matter, handled by former FBI director Robert Mueller.
Finally, the status of two other players embroiled in domestic violence cases remains in limbo. On Sunday, the Carolina Panthers benched defensive end Greg Hardy, who was convicted in July of assault on a female and communicating threats. He is appealing the ruling, and was active in the Panthers’ Week 1 game against Tampa Bay. San Francisco 49ers defensive end Ray McDonald, arrested over Labor Day weekend on suspicion of domestic violence, suited up and started for his team on Sunday night. McDonald has yet to be charged in the case.