Vikings want Adrian Peterson back

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Vikings have made it clear they would welcome back prodigal running back Adrian Peterson. On the day he was promoted to the Vikings' chief operating officer, Kevin Warren joined team owner and president Mark Wilf in expressing ...

Adrian Peterson
Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn / USA TODAY Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson, left, addresses the media outside the U.S. District Courthouse with his wife Ashley Brown Peterson on Feb. 6 in Minneapolis as the NFL Players Association’s lawsuit against the NFL on behalf of Peterson is scheduled to reach federal court.

MINNEAPOLIS - The Vikings have made it clear they would welcome back prodigal running back Adrian Peterson.
On the day he was promoted to the Vikings’ chief operating officer, Kevin Warren joined team owner and president Mark Wilf in expressing his desire to retain the team’s all-time leading rusher, currently serving an NFL suspension that kept him out of all but one game last season.
Peterson was charged with felony child abuse last September and on Nov. 4 pleaded no contest to misdemeanor reckless assault for whipping his 4-year-old son with a wooden switch. The incident became a season-long embarrassment for the NFL, and a major distraction for the Vikings.
Still, Warren said Thursday, the Vikings would “love to have him back.”
Coach Mike Zimmer and general manager Rick Spielman already have expressed interest in retaining the services of Peterson, the 2012 NFL MVP who is under contract for $12.75 million in 2015 - with a $15.4 million cap hit.
The money is not guaranteed, and the team can release him without penalty.
“I think our organization and individuals in our organization from (owner and chairman) Zygi Wilf to Mark Wilf to Coach to Rick Spielman, all have made it very clear that they all would welcome Adrian back once he gets all the open items resolved with the league, and I feel the exact same way,” Warren said.
Under terms set out by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, Peterson must clear a series of requirements before applying for reinstatement no earlier than April 15.
The NFL Players Association has challenged that ruling in a federal lawsuit, and U.S. District Judge David Doty is expected to rule by early March.
Warren, who has been with the Vikings since 2005, was promoted Thursday from executive vice president of legal affairs and chief administrative officer.
Vikings principal owner Zygi Wilf has not publicly commented on Peterson since a Sept. 17 news conference announcing the start of the running back’s eight-game suspension on the commissioner’s exempt list. (Goodell later added a six-game disciplinary suspension.) But in comments published Wednesday on the Vikings’ web site, Mark Wilf said the team wants its all-time leading rusher back.
Speaking after the unveiling of the Wilf Family Center at the University of Minnesota Children’s Hospital, Mark Wilf said, “Adrian has done a lot of good in this community. He’s done a lot for us on the football field as well, and of course, he’s a Minnesota Viking and we’d love to have him back.”
“Of course,” he added, “a lot depends on the NFL and the steps he’s making on his own personal journey.”
Peterson has acknowledged hitting his son last May but insisted he was disciplining him and didn’t mean to hurt him. He has been complying with court-mandated counseling and parenting classes in Hennepin County, court records show.
It’s unclear whether that will qualify as part of Goodell’s requirements; the NFL this week declined comment.
“I have a great respect for (Peterson) as a football player and as a person. He’s part of our Vikings family,” Warren said. “I would welcome him back with open arms. I don’t think he left anywhere. He’s still a member of our team.
“My feelings about Adrian are very positive. ... I hope that he finishes he career in Minnesota, I hope we can win multiple Super Bowls together, and I hope I can attend his Hall of Fame induction in Canton (Ohio) one day.”
ESPN reported in November that Warren was instrumental in Peterson’s ineligibility last season. Asked about that on Thursday, Warren said he has “made it very clear about how I personally feel about Adrian, how our organization feels about him.”
Asked if the Vikings would try to negotiate a lower salary for Peterson - not uncommon for veteran players with non-guaranteed contracts - Warren said that is up to Spielman and executive vice president of football operations Rob Brzezinski.
Both were unavailable for comment Thursday, according to a Vikings spokesman. Peterson told in December he did not believe he should have to take a pay cut to return to Minnesota.
“I just want to make it clear once Adrian gets all his items resolved with the NFL and is freed up to play again and rejoin our franchise, it would be good for Adrian, it would be good for us, it would be good for all the Vikings fans, it would be good for our community and it would good for the NFL,” Warren said.

The Pioneer Press is a media partner with the Forum News Service.

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