Wilf ‘very excited’ to get Peterson back
MAPLE GROVE, Minn. – Minnesota Vikings owner Zygi Wilf was as relaxed as ever Wednesday afternoon on the back porch at Rush Creek Golf Club while his players helped raise money for the Vikings Children’s Fund at the team’s annual charity golf tournament.
There was good reason for Wilf to kick back with an easy-going presence. Star running back Adrian Peterson has been back at Winter Park for the last week after a long, stress-filled absence induced by his legal issues that resulted in a plea of no contest to misdemeanor reckless assault on his 4-year-old son.
For the Vikings, the issue appears to be in the past and Peterson’s presence at practices is creating positive impressions from players, coaches and all the way up to ownership.
“We’re very excited. He’s always been part of the team and we’re very excited that he’s come in with great enthusiasm, with a great heart, as he always has,” Wilf said while kicking back on a beautiful, sun-soaked day at the golf course. “It’s great to see the players respond to him being there. It’s all good for the team.
“We’re very happy for him to get back there, back with us. We’re just moving with the optimism that he brings, along with everyone else.”
The Vikings have certainly endured their share of criticism and backlash during and because of Peterson’s absence, but while his arrival last week appeared to be the start of the end, Wilf’s comments on Peterson were much more forward-looking than dwelling on the past.
“He’s always had a good heart. He’s been great with football,” Wilf said of the 2012 NFL MVP. “We have great memories and will continue to have good memories with him. We’ll just go forward and cheer our team on.”
While communication between Peterson and the team was dormant at times during the early months of 2015, when head coach Mike Zimmer publicly laid out the options for Peterson – play for the Vikings or no one in 2015 – it sparked renewed communication between the player and coach that have steadfastly supported each other during the ordeal.
General Manager Rick Spielman said Zimmer was instrumental in Peterson’s return, but Wilf said Zimmer’s influence is far more wide-ranging than just one player.
“I credit Mike as being a coach who’s strong and who helps every player get better. And everybody feels that they’re a part of something special,” Wilf said. “That’s what is going to make him a great coach. His ability to teach players, to get into the program, to be better and to really have the enthusiasm as a team to go to the next level, which we’re optimistic we’re on.”
While Zimmer and front office personnel were often asked about the status of Peterson during his absence, Wilf was generally quiet, allowing the people he trusted to handle the situation, although Wilf met with Peterson at one point earlier this year.
“I just wanted to keep it private. You want to keep it within the family,” Wilf said Wednesday. “I know it’s very, very difficult in today’s environment and public attention. As we try to approach issues of a social nature or behavior, we try to keep it within the family and try to find ways to work things out. I know sometimes that’s impossible in today’s public world, but that’s been our style and we will continue to do so. We will try to work out whatever issues that might face us within our organization.”
Wilf even ended Wednesday’s discussion with a few reporters with a good laugh that showed just how relaxed he was. Asked if he would be issuing any tweets on the matter, he laughed.
“I don’t have a tweeter account, I don’t have a Facebook,” he said. “I use e-mail, but that’s about it. People I’m around, they know how I feel about things. I don’t need to embellish with tweets.”
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