The Minnesota Vikings might be fine with Adrian Peterson playing football, but not everyone is fine with the Minnesota Vikings — or the NFL — right now.
A day after Radisson hotel chain decided to suspend its limited sponsorship with the team following the decision to reactivate Peterson on Monday, an even bigger hammer blow came down from an industry giant also refusing to play ball, per the Associated Press.
An eye-opening development: Nike stores in Twin Cities have pulled all Adrian Peterson merch from shelves. Nike.
— Jon Krawczynski (@APkrawczynski) September 16, 2014
Peterson's NFL gear is still available through the nike.com website, but the fact that you can't go into one of the apparel giant's stores and get the jersey of the franchise's most popular (certainly before child abuse charges were brought against Peterson, and maybe even after) and recognized athlete is rather stunning.
We've said all along through the NFL's darkest week — plus a few days now — that the league will really start to realize there's a problem when the dollars grow wings. We're not there yet with all the major sponsors, but when the beer folks start issuing stern statements, such as Budweiser (via CNBC), it's a shot across the league's bow.
BREAKING: Anheuser-Busch InBev releases statement on the NFL's recent handling of off-the-field issues. pic.twitter.com/63B6me7gNV
— Sports Biz (@CNBCSportsBiz) September 16, 2014
It's clear now how far-reaching the NFL's mishandling of its domestic-abuse issue is. When sponsors start walking, or even hedging, it's never a good thing.
The Vikings — who just so happen to be opening a sparkling, new, publicly funded stadium in two years — stood up Monday and spoke of how, through their extensive fact-gathering, they feel comfortable letting Peterson play. But a day later, companies whose dollars the Vikings and the NFL rely on are not quite as comfortable with the team's reasoning for doing so.
Others have spoken out, too.
Vikings legend Fran Tarkenton told Fox News that he's embarrassed the team is letting Peterson play.
“These are serious accusations,” Tarkenton continued. “And the only way you’re going to get the attention of an NFL player is to take away his paycheck and take him off the field. This is way above winning or losing a football game. I strongly disagree with the notion of playing him this week.”
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton also issued a statement calling for Peterson's immediate suspension:
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.
It's not just media and fans who are decrying the NFL's actions and its teams' actions of late. People with clout and connections to the teams and the sport have had enough.
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