EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Adrian Peterson returned to the Minnesota Vikings’ practice Thursday and spoke more in depth of learning about a 2-year-old son in Sioux Falls, S.D. and the eventual death of that son following alleged abuse.
Peterson missed Wednesday’s practice to attend the funeral of the boy, who died Friday because of head injuries sustained last Wednesday. Joseph Robert Patterson, reportedly dating the mother of the boy, was arrested and charged in connection with the case.
Peterson confirmed he didn’t know of the son until two months ago and the first time he had the chance to meet the boy was in the hospital when he was in critical condition. Officers had responded to a call of a boy choking in Sioux Falls last week and arrived to find the boy unresponsive. He was taken to the hospital and medical examiners later determined his injuries were more likely caused by abuse.
“It’s an unfortunate situation and I can speak on it,” Peterson said. “I found out recently that he was my son, like two months ago. I was planning on seeing him. I had a talk with his mom and we got some things together as far as financially helping her. Unfortunately this situation took place. It’s devastating.
“A lot of people won’t ever understand the situation that I’m in and see it the way I’m seeing the situation. It’s tough, but I’m able to deal with that and got a good supporting cast around me that’s been supporting me through this tough time.”
Peterson, the reigning NFL MVP, had declined to speak publicly about the situation and had asked for privacy with the family. He returned to practice Thursday after attending the funeral and talked about the difficulty of learning about a son and losing him suddenly.
“Yeah, it was a difficult day, just taking in the circumstance and the whole situation,” Peterson said. “A child was buried. That’s difficult for anyone.”
Peterson does have other offspring and has a close relationship with a son, Adrian Jr., and a daughter.
“I’m standing strong, man. I am,” Peterson said. “My main focus has been on my son and their family down there in Sioux Falls. Just trying to wrap my head around things and trying to stay focused and play ball as well. So things have been tough, but I can handle a lot. I’m built for anything that comes my way. This right here will pass.”
Peterson played Sunday in Minnesota’s 35-10 loss to the Carolina Panthers. He had 10 carries for 62 yards and added three catches for 21 yards. Peterson won the league’s MVP last season, while falling eight yards shy of the single-season NFL rushing record in his return from major knee surgery.
Peterson said he won’t have to miss any more time with the team because of the situation in Sioux Falls and is expected to play Monday night in New York against the Giants.
“When trials come in life you can do two things, you can let it beat you up and hold you down or you can find good from it and become stronger,” Peterson said. “That’s the way I’ve always approached tragic situations or adversity in my life. I don’t see myself going downhill. I see myself improving from this.”
Since the incident last week, Peterson has been a hot topic in tabloids. But he said he isn’t concerned about the outside perception.
“People are going to speculate,” Peterson said. “People are going to say this and that. I can’t let that bother me. I’ve been too focused on trying to mourn and be there for his mother and take in the loss of my son. I haven’t been able to focus on anything else outside of that.”