Vikings’ Erin Henderson suing state following DWI arrest

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Erin Henderson returned to the
Minnesota Vikings this week as details about a DWI arrest and a lawsuit against
the state came to light Wednesday.

Henderson, Minnesota’s leading tackler, was out last week as
he tended to a “personal matter.” Eden Prairie police released a
statement Wednesday that Henderson was arrested Nov. 19 for probable cause DWI
and possession of a controlled substance.

The St. Paul Pioneer Press first reported Wednesday that
Henderson is suing the state’s Department of Public Safety to retain his
driver’s license, which was revoked after Henderson registered a blood-alcohol
level of 0.11. Anyone registering 0.08 or higher is considered legally impaired
by state law.

“I just want to say I apologize to my teammates and the
organization for this situation coming and arising,” Henderson said
Wednesday. “But now it’s here and it’s something we have to deal with. I
think we’ve been pretty proactive in handling it and getting out in front of it
the best way we know how.

“Again, I’m sorry if I brought any embarrassment to
this team or this organization. I didn’t want to be a distraction. You guys
know me, the kind of person I am and how I feel about this job and this
opportunity that’s been given me. I hate that it’s been put in jeopardy like
this.”

Henderson, 27, is the third Vikings’ player arrested since
Nov. 9 when receiver Jerome Simpson was arrested and charged with two counts of
DWI. Cornerback A.J. Jefferson was arrested Monday in Eden Prairie on probable
cause for domestic assault and was released by the team later in the day. Jefferson
is still in custody and has been formally charged with domestic assault.

“The fact that we have had three recent off field
situations is unacceptable and disappointing,” general manager Rick
Spielman said in a statement released by the team. “Our organization looks
at each situation and the circumstances involved to determine our actions with
those players and how to best move forward.

“The Vikings have a comprehensive approach with our
player development program and excellent resources that are a part of this
organization, but certainly we will take a methodical look at how we can
improve upon our current programs to prevent these situations in the
future.”

Coach Leslie Frazier said Henderson won’t start Sunday’s
home game, but said his absence from the team for a week wasn’t disciplinary in
regards to last week’s arrest. Frazier and Henderson each said the linebacker
was dealing with a personal matter on top of the arrest.

Henderson was arrested at 3:19 a.m. on Nov. 19 at the
Frederick-Miller Spring in Eden Prairie for the probable cause DWI and
possession of a controlled substance. He was booked at the city’s police
department and released, and the case is still under investigation, according
to a statement on the city’s website.

Henderson was never transferred to Hennepin County jail, so
there was no record of Henderson’s arrest in Hennepin County records. The
situation became public after Henderson filed suit with the state through
attorney David Valentini.

“It is a strange situation but I can’t really go into
too much detail in depth right now as far as the legal matters go,”
Henderson said. “I’ve been advised by my lawyer not to talk too much about
it. We’ll kind of let the things play out the way that they will. I’m sure you
guys will learn more in the future but at this point right now. I’m not at
liberty to discuss that.”

Henderson said he was still dealing with a personal issue
and his absence from the team was a “mutual decision” and his main
reason for missing three practices and last week’s game at Green Bay was
related to his personal issue. Henderson didn’t want to discuss any specific
details about his situation.

The circumstances of the past week had particularly hit
Henderson.

“You know, it was eye-opening, honestly,”
Henderson said. “It was a wake-up call for me and, honestly, it may be
something that I needed in the long run; something I think will help me
progress and become the person I’m capable of being and the man that I want to
be.”

Asked why the situation might have been something he needed,
Henderson responded: “You want to progress. You want to get better. You
want to mature. You want to grow up and you want to do things a certain way.
But sometimes you can’t get out of your own way.

“But I think something like this will give me the
opportunity to really step back and look in the mirror and look at my
reflection and become happier with the person that I am, and the person that I
know I can become. And like I said, I’ve been given a lot of great tools and a
lot of resources by the program and by the organization here, something I’m
very thankful for. I look forward to showing you guys the improvements of
myself.”

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