Running back Adrian Peterson faces an uncertain future with the Minnesota Vikings, now that authorities in Texas say he went too far in disciplining his 4-year-old by repeatedly hitting the boy with a wooden switch.
The team deactivated Peterson for Sunday's game against the New England Patriots, which the Vikings lost 30-7. In Minneapolis Sunday, there was no shortage of fans willing to share their opinions about the charges he's facing.
"I think it ain't my job to judge, and what will happen will happen, and if he's played his last game with us, then he's played his last game," said Jeremy Gatzke as he and his wife, Sandra, waited for a Green Line train downtown. They said they'd driven from New Mexico to see the game.
Still, Peterson had "done us good," he said.
With yesterday's weather perfect for football, there were hundreds of tailgaters outside TCF Bank stadium, many sporting Peterson's No. 28 Vikings jersey.
Fan Seth Kinzer said Peterson's alleged actions are unfortunate, but warned against a rush to judgment, and disagreed with the team's decision to deactivate the running back.
"He should be able to go to work," Kinzer said. "It should be innocent until proven guilty."
Michael Gilmore, of Winnipeg, said he'd he'll neither support nor condemn Peterson until the criminal case is resolved, but says the Vikings did the right thing by taking the player off the field.
"Especially with what's happening with Ray Rice and the Ravens, throughout the NFL and throughout pro sports, You have to err on the side of caution," he said.
The Peterson case came on the heels of news earlier in the week that the Ravens had cut Ray Rice from the team, and the NFL suspended him indefinitely, after TMZ released video from February of Rice punching his then-fiance and knocking her unconscious.
"You have to protect your brand first. You have to protect your image," Gilmore said.
Hanna Lasley also agreed with the team's decision to bench Peterson. Like many fans, Lasley said she's not worried about what the player's absence might mean for the team on the field this season.
"We have a lot of other good players and our defense is good, so I think we'll still be all right," she said.
In a statement last week, Peterson's attorney Rusty Hardin said the player never intended to harm his son and regrets the unintentional injury. Hardin also said Peterson experienced the same kind of discipline while growing up in Texas.
Becky Dale with Prevent Child Abuse Minnesota opposes corporal punishment and said she hopes the allegations against Peterson lead parents — no matter how they were raised — to rethink child discipline. Dale says the Vikings should use the situation as an opportunity to educate the public.
"I would love to see them champion positive parenting, positive human relations, look at ways they could model practicing peaceful interactions," she said.
Unless the case is resolved sooner, authorities in Texas say it could be several months before Peterson faces trial. If he's found guilty of the charges, he faces a $10,000 fine and up to two years behind bars.
"Obviously parents are entitled to discipline their children as they see fit," said Phil Grant, the District Attorney in Montgomery County, Texas, where Peterson was indicted on a felony charge of injury to a child. "Except for when that discipline exceeds what the community would say is reasonable."
MPR News reporter Tom Scheck contributed to this story.
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