The NFL, already swamped with negative news in what has been a horrible week for the league, now has to deal with Adrian Peterson, one of its biggest stars, being indicted for hitting his 4-year-old son with a tree branch. The resulting injuries led a doctor to term it "child abuse."
The Vikings announced on Friday evening Peterson has been deactivated for Sunday's game against New England. Early Saturday, Peterson turned himself in to Texas authorities.
Multiple reports, including TMZ, Fox Sports and the Fox affiliate in Houston, said Peterson was indicted on Thursday in Montgomery County for reckless or negligent injury to a child. According to the police report, obtained by Sports Radio 610's Nick Wright in Houston, the alleged victim is a 4-year-old boy and Peterson hit him with a tree branch as part of his punishment.
Sports Radio 610, citing the police report, said Peterson punished the boy after he pushed another one of Peterson’s children off of a motorbike video game. Peterson referred to it as a "whooping" in an interview with police, the police report said. Here's more from Sports Radio 610, citing the police report:
As punishment, Peterson grabbed a tree branch – which he consistently referred to as a “switch” – removed the leaves and struck the child repeatedly.
The beating allegedly resulted in numerous injuries to the child, including cuts and bruises to the child’s back, buttocks, ankles, legs and scrotum, along with defensive wounds to the child’s hands. Peterson then texted the boy’s mother, saying that one wound in particular would make her “mad at me about his leg. I got kinda good wit the tail end of the switch.”
When the child returned home to his mother in Minnesota, she took the child to a doctor, TMZ said. TMZ added the doctor contacted authorities in Texas to report Peterson.
Peterson's attorney Rusty Hardin commented to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.
Rusty Hardin: “Adrian is a loving father who used his judgment as a parent to discipline his son… Same discipline he experienced as a child”
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 12, 2014
Lawyer Rusty Hardin: “It is important to remember that Adrian never intended to harm his son and deeply regrets the unintentional injury.”
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 12, 2014
According to the police report, Peterson sent a text message to the boy's mother that said, “Never do I go overboard! But all my kids will know, hey daddy has the biggie heart but don’t play no games when it comes to acting right.” According to Sports Radio 610, citing the police report, the boy told his mother that Peterson “likes belts and switches” and “has a whooping room.” The story portrays Peterson as matter-of-fact and calm about what happened, saying he uses "whoopings" or "spankings" as a last resort.
“To be honest with you, I feel very confident with my actions because I know my intent," Peterson told police, according to the report obtained by Sports Radio 610.
WCCO in Minnesota, via Sports Radio 610 in Houston, published pictures of the alleged abuse, via the Houston Police Department. The images can be seen here. They show cuts and bruising on the child. This is how WCCO described it:
"The doctor told investigators that the boy had a number of lacerations on his thighs, along with bruise-like marks on his lower back and buttocks and cuts on his hand.
"The police report says the doctor described some of the marks as open wounds and termed it 'child abuse.' Another examiner agreed, calling the cuts 'extensive.'"
Fox Sports' Jay Glazer said Peterson has been cooperating with law enforcement. His status for this weekend's game against New England was unclear, Glazer said.
Peterson was not at practice on Thursday, with what coach Mike Zimmer classified as a day of rest, or "veteran day," but was at practice early Friday afternoon according to Matt Vensel of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
The Vikings put out the following statement, through a team spokesman, a little more than an hour before announcing his deactivation:
"The Vikings are in the process of gathering information regarding the legal situation involving Adrian Peterson. At this time, we will defer further questions to Adrian’s attorney Rusty Hardin."
Peterson is one of the league's most marketable stars. He was named 2012 NFL MVP after coming back from ACL surgery to rush for 2,097 yards and lead the Vikings to the playoffs. The league has been under constant criticism since Monday morning, when TMZ released a video of Baltimore running back Ray Rice punching and knocking out his then-fiancee. Rice was cut by the Ravens on Monday.
Peterson posted an inspirational quote on Twitter about two hours before news broke of his indictment:
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