Hours after Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman answered a barrage of questions about why Adrian Peterson, a six-time Pro Bowl selection, was being allowed to return, WKOU-TV in Houston reported a new allegation about Peterson involving a different son. The station said it obtained photos and a text exchange between Peterson and the boy’s mother that suggest the boy, then 4 years old, suffered a head wound when Peterson disciplined him for cursing at a sibling. The exchange did not make clear how the wound occurred. The report said the mother filed a report with Child Protective Services. No action was taken.
Peterson’s lawyer, Rusty Hardin, said in an email, “The allegation of another investigation into Adrian Peterson is simply not true. This is not a new allegation, it’s one that is unsubstantiated and was shopped around to authorities in two states over a year ago and nothing came of it. An adult witness adamantly insists Adrian did nothing inappropriate with his son. There is no ongoing or new investigation.”
A Vikings spokesman said the team was aware of the episode before it reinstated Peterson.
The Vikings announced Monday that Peterson, whom the team deactivated for Sunday’s 30-7 loss to New England, would practice this week and play Sunday at New Orleans.
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Peterson, the Minnesota Vikings’ All-Pro running back who faces child abuse charges in Texas, never appeared in the locker room while it was open to the news media Monday. The only indication Peterson was back at the team’s Winter Park headquarters came from a note taped to the chair at his locker, summoning him to report for a random NFL drug test.
The Radisson Hotels, a Vikings sponsor based in suburban Minneapolis, announced Monday night that it was suspending its sponsorship because of the charges against Peterson.
Peterson is accused of injuring his son while disciplining him with a tree branch, commonly referred to as a switch, in May in Spring, Texas, north of Houston.
Photographs obtained by a Houston television station showed cuts and bruises on the boy’s buttocks, back and legs.
“The photos are disturbing,” Spielman said. “I understand that.”
A grand jury in Montgomery County, Texas, indicted Peterson on Thursday, and a warrant was issued for his arrest Friday. Within hours, Peterson flew to Houston to turn himself in, and the Vikings deactivated him for Sunday’s game against the New England Patriots.
Peterson returned to the Minneapolis area after posting a $15,000 bond but stayed away from TCF Bank Stadium.
In his statement, Peterson said: “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 added: “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.”
Peterson could still face disciplinary action from the NFL. Greg Aiello, a league spokesman, said in an email that the Peterson case was being reviewed under the personal-conduct policy.
The Vikings’ owners, Mark and Zygi Wilf, said in a statement that the situation was difficult because the NFL was reeling from criticism for its handling of a domestic violence case involving Ray Rice, a former Baltimore Ravens running back.
“To be clear, we take very seriously any matter that involves the welfare of a child,” the statement said. “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.”
Peterson faces up to two years in prison and a $10,000 fine if convicted. He was scheduled to make his first court appearance Wednesday in Conroe, Texas, to enter a plea. But Phil Grant, Montgomery County’s first assistant district attorney, said he expected the hearing to be pushed back because Hardin, is out of the country.
Several Vikings players declined to comment on the charges. Fullback Jerome Felton, Peterson’s close friend, said he was disciplined with a switch while growing up in Tennessee, and that it made him a better man.
“I think you’ll get a lot of support for Adrian in here, just because we know what type of person he is,” Felton said. “The person I know has dedicated a lot of his own money and time to raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for children, whether it’s special-needs children and inner-city kids.”
Peterson’s return was not universally supported. A fan website, VikingsMessageBoard.com, shut down Monday for what it called the team’s “cowardly decision” to reinstate Peterson. A note on the site said the shutdown was permanent. “We will not give a voice to those who think child abuse is ‘cultural,’ or worse, openly advocate child abuse as a reasonable method of punishment,” the note said.