Vikes owners admit 'mistake,' bar Peterson from team; Nike cuts ties

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Vikings owner Zygi Wilf talks to reporters
Minnesota Vikings owner Zygi Wilf addresses the media on Wednesday.
Jennifer Simonson/MPR News

Updated 4:20 p.m.

The Minnesota Vikings reversed course Wednesday and barred running back Adrian Peterson from the team while he addresses a child abuse charge in Texas.

"We made a mistake, and we needed to get this right," team owner Zygi Wilf told reporters at a Wednesday morning press conference.

"Adrian will be away from the team and focus on his personal situation," he added. "We will support Adrian during his legal and personal process, but we firmly believe this is the right decision."

Minnesota Vikings v St. Louis Rams
Vikings running back Adrian Peterson.
Dilip Vishwanat / Getty Images

Peterson lawyer Rusty Hardin said Wednesday afternoon the star player "is confident that a just result will emerge once all the facts are presented."

Peterson, he added, "wants to continue his work in the NFL and contribute to his team and community ... he is prepared to resolve this matter in the appropriate legal forum rather than the court of public opinion."

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Peterson was placed on the NFL's "exempt list." It lets the superstar running back continue to be paid while he's separated from the team. There's no time limit for how long a player can stay on the list. It's possible he could miss the rest of the season.

The NFL Players Association said Peterson made the decision to leave the team, though Vikings executives made it clear Wednesday it was the team's call.

"We will support Adrian during his legal and personal process, but we firmly believe this is the right decision."

The decision was the right thing to do and was "absolutely not" driven by pressure from sponsors and advertisers, said team owner and president Mark Wilf.

"It's never too late to get it right," he added.

The move to bar Peterson came after sponsors and advertisers pushed back at the Vikings' decision on Monday to let Peterson play while the child abuse case worked its way through the Texas legal system.

The Vikings came under heavy criticism for their initial stance. Several sponsors responded by either suspending their deals with the Vikings or severing ties with Peterson, prompting the Wilfs to revisit the situation on Tuesday.

It apparently wasn't enough, though for sportswear giant Nike, which announced on Wednesday it had suspended its sponsorship of Peterson.

Owner and president Mark Wilf
Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman, owner and president Mark Wilf and executive vice president of legal affairs and cheif adminstrative officer Kevin Warren, left to right, talk about running back Adrian Peterson's placement on the exempt-commissioner's placement list Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014 at the Vikings training facility in Eden Prairie.
Jennifer Simonson / MPR News

Minneapolis-based retailer Target said late Wednesday that it had pulled Peterson merchandise from its stores and the Target.com website after hearing from customers.

Peterson was indicted last week in Montgomery County, Texas, after admitting to authorities that he struck his son with a tree branch.

Peterson said he was disciplining his son the same way his own father disciplined him while growing up in Palestine, Texas, and didn't intend to hurt him.

The Vikings deactivated him for the 30-7 loss to the New England Patriots on Sunday while they gathered more information. On Monday they announced that Peterson was being reinstated and expected to play this weekend at New Orleans.

The about face came after the Radisson hotel chain suspended its sponsorship with the Vikings. The Radisson name was conspicuously gone from the Vikings' purple backdrop during Wednesday morning's press conference.

"Adrian understands the gravity of the situation and this enables him to take care of his personal situation."

Papa John's considered doing the same, and Anheuser-Busch said it was "disappointed and increasingly concerned" with the negative attention brought to the league by Ray Rice's assault on his wife and Peterson's arrest.

Castrol Motor Oil, Special Olympics Minnesota and Mylan Inc. all severed ties with Peterson, and Twin Cities Nike stores pulled Peterson's jerseys from its shelves.

"This is the best possible outcome given the circumstances," Peterson's agent, Ben Dogra, told The Associated Press of the Vikings' decision. "Adrian understands the gravity of the situation and this enables him to take care of his personal situation."

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, who spearheaded an effort to secure $477 million in public money to help build the team a new stadium, and Sen. Al Franken were among the many who called for the Vikings to reconsider their position.

Peterson's first court appearance isn't until Oct. 8, and with the Vikings specifying that he must stay away "until the legal proceedings are resolved," it appears there is a possibility that he won't play again this year.

The Vikings said they had deliberations with the NFL over the previous two days and informed the league they were revisiting the situation.

Fans, sponsors and others connected to the Vikings "are going to understand that we're doing the right thing" keeping Peterson off the field until his legal woes are settled, Mark Wilf told reporters on Wednesday.

The Vikings do "so many good things in the community," he added. "There's a lot of good that goes on in this organization. We're disappointed when off-the-field matters don't go the proper way."

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