‘Not the victim,’ Peterson moves forward
Adrian Peterson stood in front of a packed media crowd upon his return to the Minnesota Vikings Tuesday, fielding a variety of questions about football, his counseling on parenting since disciplining his 4-year-old son with a wooden switch, and how he’s grown.
Now 30 years old, Peterson says he has learned a lot about parenting and his relationship with his son, and all of his children, is strong.
“The first person I apologized to was my son,” Peterson said. “And that was initially, that was right after the situation took place, when I realized what had happened. I apologized about the mistake I made. It wasn’t my intentions. I’ve tried to move forward since.”
Peterson was initially indicted on felony child abuse charges in Texas last September and pictures emerged with cuts on his son’s legs after the star running back used a wooden switch to punish him. He eventually pleaded no contest to misdemeanor reckless assault.
The incident caused the Vikings to place him on the Commissioner’s Exempt List, and between that and a six-game suspension from the NFL, Peterson missed all but the season opener.
Tuesday was his first day back at Winter Park after an offseason filled with comments from his agent saying that he might be better off playing elsewhere and Peterson talking telling ESPN that his family has been affected by comments from people appalled at the form of discipline he enforced, which he said he endured as a child. Teammates, especially those growing up in the south, also endured that form of discipline.
But Peterson indicated he and his family are ready to move forward.
“I’m definitely not the victim and never tried to play the victim in this role,” he said. “But in the end, I’m on the outside and I’m able to really sit back and see everything that was going on, whether that’s from Minnesota or the state of Texas, I was able to see everything. With that, it was tough to sit back and take all these different blows. With that, it was definitely emotional for me. I had to stay prayed up, had a lot of people praying for me. Had time to sit back and talk to pastors and get some different views about things. Ultimately, that allowed me to see things in a different alignment.”
The Vikings supported Peterson’s potential return since the end of the season, even when his side was indicating he didn’t want to come back to the Vikings. He said he wasn’t sure what he wanted when he talked about retirement, becoming more involved in real estate or pursuing a track career.
But even with his return to the Vikings, his time away allowed him to focus on his relationship with his son.
“My son’s doing good. He’s still active. He’s a very intelligent young man,” Peterson said.
He relayed a story from the first time he saw his son after the punishment. His son was talking about a plan for him to “escape” back down to Texas to spend time with his father. His son whispered the plan to “sneak” away when the two were together in therapy.
Peterson smiled while telling of his son’s plan, but realized that wouldn’t be a good idea given the circumstances. Now, he says, the relationship is good.
“It’s love. I made a mistake,” Peterson said. “I know a lot of people don’t view it that way based from what they’ve seen, but ultimately that’s what it was. My son knows that, he knows I love him. And my other kids know the same.”
The Vikings lost sponsors after the incident and their star player for the final 15 games of the season, but head coach Mike Zimmer never wavered in his support of Peterson, based on what he learned about him during Zimmer’s first offseason and preseason as a head coach.
“A lot of it was difficult because I had a player that I really, really respected and he was not able to be with us. He had to go through some hard times for himself,” Zimmer said. “But, you know, I’ve made a million mistakes in my life. Hopefully I’ll continue to learn, but I think we all have those things that come up that we make mistakes, we apologize for them and we go on.”
Peterson said he has fulfilled the obligations of the counseling set forth as part of his discipline from the NFL and has learned alternative forms of discipline.
“I actually learned that I’ve been doing a pretty good job. There’s so many forms of discipline, whether that’s time out, taking toys away or snacks and things like that,” Peterson said. “Those are forms of discipline that I use. I made a mistake, and I’m not taking it lightly at all. It’s something that I regret. My son knows that, the people that truly know me know my character and know what type of character I am when I’m with my kids. They know that as well and that’s really, to me, all that matters.
“… I would just say that I love all my kids, with all my heart. And I’d run through a brick wall for them. I’d jump in front of a car for them. And that’s the type of love that I have for my kids. … I’m comfortable with knowing my intentions, and I’m comfortable with knowing that my child loves me and he wants to be around me. So, yeah, that’s pretty much it. I love all my kids with all my heart, and there’s nothing that I wouldn’t do for them.”
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