“It’s never too late to get it right,” Vikings co-owner and president Mark Wilf said at a Wednesday press conference. “The fact that we’re getting it right now, it’s best for all parties.”
The all-hands-on-deck presser, which featured the team’s owner, general manager, and coach, sought to give the team an escape from a public-relations nightmare that began on Friday with the indictment of Adrian Peterson, so much the face of the franchise that he appeared on the program and ticket for Sunday’s home opener against the New England Patriots, on a child-abuse charge in Texas.
The Vikings reactivating Peterson on Monday sparked a backlash among corporate sponsors and even the governor of Minnesota. The team reversed course and placed Peterson on the commissioner’s special “exempt” list on Wednesday morning. The decision awards Peterson pay but forbids him from on-field play.
“We felt, after we reviewed everything, that this was the best possible solution,” General Manager Rick Spielman explained. The GM noted that the team will let the legal process play out, and Peterson “will remain on this exempt list until that is accomplished.”
Spielman and others occupying the dais avoided answering a question about whether the team considered cutting the best player in the 53-year history of the franchise.
“We always come out of the room together,” Head Coach Mike Zimmer said of the decision. “I’m good with it.” Zimmer offered that the situation isn’t distracting the team because football is “our refuge anyway.” The 1-1 Vikings play the 0-2 New Orleans Saints this weekend. “We’ve got a lot of good guys on this football team, a lot of guys with heart, a lot of great competitors, and a lot of guys who want to win.”
Zimmer noted that he has discussed the matter with the 2012 NFL MVP. “I have talked to Adrian, yes,” he divulged. “Football players play football. Our conversations–I think we should keep between him and I.”
Peterson ranks as the team’s all-time rushing leader. He accumulated 10,000 yards on the ground faster than every player to reach that milestone save for Eric Dickerson and Jim Brown.
“Adrian is an unselfish person and saw all of the light that was coming on this,” Speilman concluded. Peterson realized, Spielman offered, that stepping back allowed the Vikings to “focus on football,” a task easier said than done.