Minnesota Vikings' Peterson reaches plea deal to avoid jail

By Jon Herskovitz
Dec 15, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (28) talks on the sidelines during the first quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at Mall of America Field at H.H.H. Metrodome. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
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By Jon Herskovitz AUSTIN Texas (Reuters) - Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson reached a plea deal on Tuesday to charges of abusing his 4-year-old son that would see the former NFL most valuable player avoid any jail time. Peterson, 29, pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor assault charge. He must pay a fine of $4,000 and perform community service, under the deal reached in a court outside of Houston. He had been accused of felony injury to a child. Montgomery County Judge Kelly Case deferred any finding for two years. "I'm just glad this is over," Peterson said on the steps of the courthouse. "I can put this behind me. And me and my family can begin to move forward." Peterson is among a handful of National Football League players recently charged, convicted or implicated with domestic abuse in a scandal that has rocked the nation's most popular sport. Peterson had been charged with striking his son with a thin tree branch as a form of punishment, leaving the child bruised. Any punishment by the NFL is separate from any possible deal with local prosecutors. "We will review the matter, including the court record, and then make a determination on his status," NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told Reuters in an e-mail. "We cannot provide a timetable." The Minnesota Vikings said in a statement the team was aware of the plea agreement and will have a further comment at the appropriate time. Peterson's combination of speed and power has made him one of the league's top running backs. He rushed for 2,097 yards in his MVP year of 2012, an eye-popping 6.0 yards per carry, and finished just eight yards shy of Eric Dickerson's all-time single-season record set in 1984. Peterson said as a child growing up in Texas, where corporal punishment is legal, that he was disciplined in the same manner that he used to punish his son. The Vikings absorbed heavy criticism for holding Peterson from only one game until one of its sponsors, hotel chain Radisson, suspended its contract with the team. With the NFL under fire for its uneven handling of domestic abuse cases, the Vikings ultimately placed Peterson on the NFL's exempt list, which suspends him from all team activities but continues to pay him his full $11.75 million salary. (Additional reporting by Steve Ginsburg in Washington and David Bailey in Minneapolis; Editing by Doina Chiacu and Eric Walsh)