MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — After a day of public pressure from angry fans and concerned sponsors, the Minnesota Vikings have reversed course and placed star running back Adrian Peterson on the exempt-commissioner’s permission list, a move that will require him to stay away from the team while he addresses child abuse charges in Texas.
The Vikings made the announcement early Wednesday morning, about a day and a half after initially deciding that Peterson could play with the team while the legal process played out. Peterson is charged with a felony for using a wooden switch to spank his 4-year-old son.
The Vikings came under heavy criticism for their initial stance. Several sponsors responded by either suspending their deals with the Vikings or severing ties with Peterson.
“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,” owners Zygi and Mark Wilf said in a statement. “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 stunning reversal comes after a harrowing day on Tuesday that included the Radisson hotel chains suspending its sponsorship with the Vikings.
Castrol Motor Oil, Special Olympics Minnesota and Mylan Inc. all severed ties with Peterson, and Twin Cities Nike stores pulled Peterson’s jerseys from its shelves.
In addition, Anheuser-Busch issued a strongly worded statement that said it was disappointed in the way the NFL was handling all of the negative attention surrounding former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice’s assault of his then-fiancee, and Peterson’s arrest for child abuse.
Peterson has said he was disciplining his son and didn’t intend to hurt him.
“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.”
The Vikings said they had deliberations with the NFL over the previous two days and informed the league they were revisiting the situation.
“After giving the situation additional thought, we have decided this is the appropriate course of action for the organization and for Adrian,” the Wilfs said. “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.”