Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson said Monday that he is “not a perfect parent, but I am, without a doubt, not a child abuser.”
Peterson, one of the NFL’s marquee players, will practice this week and can play in Sunday’s game against the New Orleans Saints, despite facing a child abuse charge, team officials said.
Peterson, who was kept out of Sunday’s game against the New England Patriots, turned himself in to East Texas authorities Saturday, two days after an indictment alleged the 29-year-old father did “recklessly or by criminal negligence cause bodily injury” to his son, a felony.
Peterson quickly posted $15,000 in bail and was released, according to the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office.
In his first comments on the case, the reinstated NFL star told fans in a written statement posted on his Twitter feed, “I never imagined being in a position where the world is judging my parenting skills or calling me a child abuser because of the discipline I administered to my son.”
Despite being advised by his attorney not to discuss details of the case, Peterson wrote, “I want everyone to understand how sorry I feel about the hurt I have brought to my child.”
He said that he voluntarily appeared before a grand jury and told its members the same thing, which also matches what he said he told two different police agencies about the incident.
“I will say the same thing once I have my day in court,” he wrote.
In disciplining his son in the same manner as Peterson himself was disciplined as a child, he wrote, he unintentionally caused the boy injury. He understands that there are people who disagree with this form of discipline, he said, and he has met with a psychologist who informed him of more “appropriate” ways to discipline children.
“But deep in my heart I have always believed I could have been one of those kids that was lost in the streets without the discipline instilled in me by my parents and other relatives,” he wrote. “I have always believed that the way my parents disciplined me has a great deal to do with the success I have enjoyed as a man. I love my son and I will continue to become a better parent and learn from any mistakes I ever make.”
He closed his statement by saying that while he isn’t the perfect parent, he is not a child abuser.
“My goal is always to teach my son right from wrong and that’s what I tried to do that day,” he wrote. “I accept the fact that people feel very strongly about this issue and what they think about my conduct. Regardless of what others think, however, I love my son very much and I will continue to try to become a better father and person.”
The team stands behind its star player
General manager Rick Spielman said more information about the incident was available to the Vikings then the team had on Friday when it placed Peterson, a six-time Pro Bowler in his first seven seasons, on the inactive list.
“This is a difficult path to navigate regarding the judgment of how a parent disciplines his child,” Spielman told reporters. “Based on the extensive information that we have right now, and what we know about Adrian not only as a person but what he has also done for this community, we believe he deserves to play while this legal process plays out.”
Peterson’s attorney has said his client used “a switch to spank his son” and was simply doling out discipline much like “he experienced as a child growing up in East Texas.”
Peterson “will continue to insist on his innocence of any intended wrongdoing,” attorney Rusty Hardin said Friday.
Photos obtained by TMZ allegedly show Peterson’s son’s leg covered in marks that could have come from a switch, or thin tree branch. Some of the marks in the photo appeared to have broken the skin.
“The photos are disturbing, I understand that. But to be clear, you know any matter that’s involving the child is very important for this organization. But we also think that it is right for him to go through the process legally,” Spielman said.
Montgomery County Assistant District Attorney Phil Grant, whose office made the case against Peterson to a grand jury over a period of weeks, said prosecutors “will take this charge extremely seriously and we look forward to presenting this case to a jury.”
According to Texas law, people can be convicted of injury to a child if they cause bodily or mental injury “intentionally, knowingly, recklessly or with criminal negligence” or cause such harm by omission. The crime is punishable by up to two years in a state jail and a $1,000 fine.
In Texas, someone can defend himself against a charge of injury to a child if he can prove it happened while he was administering “reasonable discipline,” Grant said.
“Obviously, parents are entitled to discipline their children as they see fit, except for when that discipline exceeds what the community would say is reasonable,” he said. “And so, a grand jury, having indicted this case, looked at the injuries that were inflicted upon this child and determined that that discipline was not reasonable.”
As the NFL reviews the running back’s actions under its personal conduct policy, the Vikings owners said they will “monitor the situation closely.”
Referring to the decision to keep Peterson out of Sunday’s game, the Vikings owners, who are brothers, said, “On Friday, we felt it was in the best interests of the organization to step back, evaluate the situation, and not rush to judgment given the seriousness of this matter. At that time, we made the decision that we felt was best for the Vikings and all parties involved.”
Peterson is considered one of the best running backs in the NFL — if not the best. His absence was probably felt during the Vikings’ 30-7 loss to the Patriots on Sunday.
In 2011, he agreed to a lucrative contract, which NFL.com reported would be worth $100 million over a 7-year period.