MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Adrian Peterson says he realizes moving on from the Minnesota Vikings might be best for both him and the team.
In an interview published Thursday by USA Today, Peterson said he believes the coaches and players on the team are fully behind him but that feelings in the organization toward him are mixed after he was charged with felony child abuse in Texas for using a wooden switch to discipline his 4-year-old son. He pleaded no contest Nov. 4 to misdemeanor reckless assault.
"I know who loves me. The coaches and the players, it's not going to be a problem. I've felt so much support from those guys. The organization, I know there's people in the organization that support me and there's people that I know internally that has not been supporting me," Peterson told the newspaper. He said he has given a lot of thought to the idea that "maybe it's best for me to get a fresh start somewhere else."
"I would love to go back and play in Minnesota to get a feel and just see if my family still feels comfortable there," he told USA Today (http://usat.ly/1F6vQN7). "But if there's word out that, hey, they might release me, then so be it. I would feel good knowing that I've given everything I had in me."
Peterson said he spoke last week with his son for the first time in five months. He told the newspaper he "won't ever use a switch again," that he has been seeing a therapist and meeting a pastor certified in counseling near his Houston-area home, and has learned other ways to discipline his children.
On paid leave from the Vikings for more than two months, Peterson was informed this week by the NFL he will be suspended without pay for at least the rest of the season. The NFL Players Association has appealed the punishment on his behalf, and Peterson will continue to draw his salary on the exempt list until the appeal is resolved.
Regardless of which team he plays for next year, assuming he's reinstated by the league, Peterson said his focus has been on family — restoring his relationship with the boy and becoming a better parent. Peterson has fathered six children by six different women. He was married July 19.
"No one knows how I felt when I turned my child around after spanking him and seeing what I had left on his leg," Peterson said. "No one knows that Dad sat there and apologized to him, hugged him and told him that I didn't mean to do this to you and how sorry I was."
Peterson said he declined to meet with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell last week because of unanswered questions he and the union had about the process.
"I didn't want to go into a situation blind. I didn't know what to expect. Who's going to be there? Who will I be meeting with? What details are we going to get into?" he said.
Peterson also said he was upset by Goodell's accusation in the letter about the suspension that he showed "no meaningful remorse" about injuring the boy.
"Ultimately, I know I'll have my opportunity to sit down with Roger face to face, and I'll be able to say a lot of the same things that I've said to you," Peterson told the newspaper. "Don't say that I'm not remorseful, because in my statement, I showed that I was remorseful. I regretted everything that took place. I love my child, more than anyone could ever imagine."