NFL's Vikings say they erred in light Peterson punishment

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 17, 2014 1:42 PM

By Eric Kelsey

(Reuters) - The Minnesota Vikings "made a mistake" in not initially suspending star player Adrian Peterson until his child-abuse case is resolved, the team's owners said on Wednesday, as sporting goods maker Nike halted its contract with the All-Pro running back.

The Vikings' apology is the latest mea culpa to come from the NFL as the powerful sports league grapples with a spate of domestic violence cases that have raised questions about the league's integrity and leadership of commissioner Roger Goodell.

The team, which on Monday reactivated Peterson for this Sunday's NFL game following his indictment last week in Texas in a case involving his 4-year-old son, reversed course by placing Peterson on a special exempt list that suspends him from all team activities.

"We made a mistake, and we needed to get this right," Vikings co-owner Zygi Wilf said at a news conference.

"It is important to always listen to our fans, the community and our sponsors," Wilf added. "Our goal is to always make the decision we feel is right for the Minnesota Vikings."

Peterson, 29, stands accused of reckless or negligent injury to a child, stemming from a whipping incident that allegedly left bruises and wounds on his son.

"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," the NFL said of the decision to place Peterson on paid leave.

The Vikings will continue to pay Peterson his full $11.75 million salary for this season.

Nike Inc, one of Peterson's sponsors and which has a reputation for steadfastly sticking by its top athletes, said it had suspended its contract with the running back.

"Nike in no way condones child abuse or domestic violence of any kind and we have shared our concerns with the NFL," the Oregon-based sporting goods company said in a statement. "We have suspended our contract with Adrian Peterson."

The league has been publicly chastised by one of its top sponsors, beer brewer Anheuser-Busch. Several other sponsors, such as McDonald's Corp, Visa Inc and Campbell Soup Co, said they have communicated their concerns to the NFL about its handling of domestic violence cases.

Goodell and the league are already struggling to make amends for his initial lenient punishment of former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, who punched his then-fiancee, now his wife, in February, striking her unconscious.

Goodell has since apologized for the handling of the Rice case and suspended Rice indefinitely. The Pro Bowl running back appealed his suspension on Tuesday.

Two other players involved in domestic violence cases are Carolina Panthers' Greg Hardy and San Francisco 49ers' Ray McDonald.

(Additional reporting by Steve Ginsburg and Ramkumar Iyer; Editing by Mary Milliken and Leslie Adler)