Running back facing child abuse charges has been indefinitely suspended from all team activities, the team announced Wednesday.
With the Minnesota Vikings taking heavy fire from sponsors, politicians and former players for their decision to let accused child abuser Adrian Peterson back on the field, the organization announced around 2 a.m. Wednesday morning the star running back had been placed on the league's exempt list.
That means Peterson, 29, just two seasons removed from climbing the Mount Rushmore of running backs by gaining 2,000 yards in a single season, has been indefinitely suspended from all team activities.
Peterson, indicted Friday in Texas for abusing a son, was deactivated for last Sunday's game with New England but then the team - stating due process needed to run its course - announced Monday Peterson was back and would play Sunday in New Orleans.
NFL commisioner Roger Goodell remained silent through the whole process, but Monday evening Radisson hotels announced it was breaking off its sponsorship deal with the Vikings. Also Monday, KHOU-TV in Houston reported Peterson had been accused of abusing a second son.
"While we were trying to make a balanced decision yesterday, after further reflection we have concluded that this resolution is best for the Vikings and for Adrian," Vikings owner Zygi Wilf and team president Mark Wilf said in a joint statement. "We want to be clear: we have a strong stance regarding the protection and welfare of children, and we want to be sure we get this right. At the same time we want to express our support for Adrian and acknowledge his seven-plus years of outstanding commitment to this organization and this community. Adrian emphasized his desire to avoid further distraction to his teammates and coaches while focusing on his current situation; this resolution accomplishes these objectives as well."
The Vikings have scheduled a press conference for noon ET Wednesday.
Peterson was charged with injuring his son with a switch, a stripped tree branch that he used in dispensing corporal punishment. The 2012 league MVP surrendered Saturday in Texas on the stick-beating case and was arrested on charges of reckless or negligent injury to a child, a felony, then released on $15,000 bail.
He faces up to two years in prison if convicted. Peterson, who has a court appearance scheduled for Oct. 8, is expected to remain deactivated until his legal battles are resolved.
"This is the best possible outcome given the circumstances," Peterson's agent, Ben Dogra, told The Associated Press of the Vikings' decision. "Adrian understands the gravity of the situation and this enables him to take care of his personal situation. We fully support Adrian and he looks forward to watching his teammates and coaches being successful during his absence."
Peterson will receive his full salary ($11.75 million) for the 2014 season after being placed on the exempt list.
"Adrian Peterson made a decision to take a voluntary leave with pay to take care of his personal and legal issues," the NFL players' union said in a statement. "The NFLPA and NFL worked with Adrian and the Minnesota Vikings to resolve this unique situation. We support this decision and hope the best for him and his family."
Although Goodell has yet to comment, the NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported that the league applauded the Vikings' decision.
Adrian Peterson Placed on Exempt List
Jay Onrait with the Vikings decision for Peterson.
"This is a good decision that will allow Adrian Peterson to resolve his personal situation & Vikings to return focus to the field," the NFL told Rapoport.
The Vikings' initial decision to reactivate Peterson was blasted Tuesday by Minnesota Gov. Mark Drayton and Hall of Fame Vikings QB Fran Tarkenton.
"We will support Adrian during this legal and personal process, but we firmly believe and realize this is the right decision," the Wilfs said. "We hope that all of our fans can respect the process that we have gone through to reach this final decision."
Peterson’s suspension comes one week after Goodell lowered the boom on New Rochelle native Ray Rice, indefinitely suspending the running back who was also cut by the Baltimore Ravens after his domestic violence video went viral. Goodell's move came only after public outcry over his original slap on the wrist for Rice (a two-game ban). Rice appealed his ban Tuesday night via the NFL players’ union.
Peterson is the seventh back in league history to eclipse the 2,000-yard mark in a single season. He’s amassed 10,190 yards in an eight-year NFL career, including 75 yards in the Vikings' Week 1 win over St. Louis.
Peterson took to Twitter and offered up a spiritual retort to the suspension via @AdrianPeterson. It reads, in part: “Many people Doubted YOU! Now look at you! You didnt only Overcome Major Obstacles in your Life! You Identified who u were in Christ! If you only knew! If you could only see how God views you! Just understand that you are a Mighty Vessel that God Chose to do Great things!”