Adrian Peterson may be an athletic icon in Minnesota, but the state’s governor didn’t mince words on Tuesday in rebuking the former NFL MVP over accusations of child abuse.
A day after the Minnesota Vikings announced it will reinstate its star running back, Gov. Mark Dayton (D) signaled his disagreement with the decision, calling Peterson’s alleged actions “a public embarrassment to the Vikings organization and the State of Minnesota.”
Peterson was indicted by a grand jury last week on a charge of reckless or negligent injury to a child, stemming from an incident at his home in Texas earlier this year when he allegedly hit his four-year-old son with a switch. The Vikings promptly deactivated Peterson, and he was held out of the team’s loss to the New England Patriots on Sunday.
Peterson was re-activated on Monday, and is expected to line up for the team when it takes on the New Orleans Saints next weekend.
“Whipping a child to the extent of visible wounds, as has been alleged, should not be tolerated in our state,” Dayton said in his statement. “Therefore, I believe the team should suspend Mr. Peterson, until the accusations of child abuse have been resolved by the criminal justice system.”
Peterson released a statement of his own on Monday, insisting that he is “not a child abuser.” According to Houston television station KHOU, Peterson faced a similar accusation in 2013 from a different mother who said he left a scar on the face of another four-year-old son. Peterson’s lawyer said that allegation is “simply not true.”
Dayton was instrumental in securing public financing for the Vikings’ new $1 billion stadium, which will open in 2016. At a ground breaking for the stadium late last year, Dayton stood next to Peterson (pictured below, via the Associated Press).
Below, Dayton’s statement, via St. Paul, Minn. television station KARE:
It is an awful situation. Yes, Mr. Peterson is entitled to due process and should be “innocent until proven guilty.” However, he is a public figure; and his actions, as described, are a public embarrassment to the Vikings organization and the State of Minnesota. Whipping a child to the extent of visible wounds, as has been alleged, should not be tolerated in our state. Therefore, I believe the team should suspend Mr. Peterson, until the accusations of child abuse have been resolved by the criminal justice system.
However, I will not turn my back on the Vikings and their fans, as some have suggested. The Vikings belong to Minnesota – and in Minnesota. This has been the team’s only home; and our citizens, including myself, have been its most dedicated fans.