Nike suspends deal with Peterson in wake of child abuse allegations
Nike has suspended its sponsorship deal with Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson following child abuse allegations.
The Beaverton-based shoemaker issued a statement Wednesday morning that said Nike ”in no way condones child abuse or domestic violence of any kind and has shared our concerns with the NFL.”
The move comes the same day that the Vikings took Peterson off the team’s active roster while he deals with a felony child-abuse charge in Texas. He is accused of injuring his 4-year-old son by spanking him with a wooden switch earlier this year.
Peterson has an Oct. 8 court appearance scheduled in Montgomery County, outside of Houston, on a felony charge of injury to a child. Peterson has taken responsibility for the incident, insisting he meant no harm to the child.
On Tuesday, Nike decided to pull all Peterson merchandise out of their stores in the Twin Cities area.
"An eye-opening development: Nike stores in Twin Cities have pulled all Adrian Peterson merch from shelves. Nike," Jon Crawczynski of The Associated Press tweeted Tuesday.
Public pressure has been building for sponsors to react in the wake of several ugly incidents that have gone down in the NFL, from Ray Rice’s domestic violence issues to Peterson. Hotel chain Radisson temporarily suspended its sponsorship deal with the Vikings, and beer manufacturer Anheuser-Busch expressed concern over the league’s handling of domestic violence and child abuse.
On early Wednesday morning, the Minnesota Vikings owners announced in a statement to the media that they are following the recommendation of the NFL and placing Peterson on the exempt / commissioner’s permission list, which bars Peterson from all team activities.
"This is the best possible outcome given the circumstances," Peterson’s agent, Ben Dogra, told The Associated Press. "Adrian understands the gravity of the situation and this enables him to take care of his personal situation. We fully support Adrian and he looks forward to watching his teammates and coaches being successful during his absence."
The Vikings’ announcement capped a busy day of developments in the Peterson saga, a day which saw:
• The mother of the 4-year-old boy allegedly abused by Peterson break her silence and demand the media stop using photos of the child’s injury and publishing details of the investigation.
• A report that the Vikings would consider trading Peterson, but not release him.
• The governor of Minnesota voice his displeasure with Peterson and the Vikings, and state his belief Peterson should be suspended "until the accusations of child abuse have been resolved by the criminal justice system."
• Corporate NFL sponsors release statements about their concerns over the recent controversies to plague the league, most notably Anheuser-Busch.
• Castrol Motor Oil, Special Olympics Minnesota and Mylan Inc. all severed ties with Peterson himself, and Twin Cities Nike stores pulled Peterson’s jerseys from its shelves.
Peterson was charged on Friday and surrendered to police early Saturday, charged with causing injury to a child age 14 or younger. He allegedly hit one of his sons with a wooden switch while disciplining the boy on or around May 18.
After the charges came to light, the Vikings deactivated the All-Pro for last weekend’s game, a blowout loss to New England. On Monday, the Vikings reinstated Peterson and announced he would play this coming weekend. Shortly afterward, a report surfaced that the mother of another of Peterson’s 4-year-old sons filed a report with Child Protective Services over an incident alleged to have occurred "last June."
What this means for Peterson’s future with the team remains to be seen. The 29-year-old has been the face of the franchise practically since he was drafted in 2007, one of the most popular and marketable stars in the NFL whose All Day Foundation charity is devoted to helping children.
But the foundation’s website was shuttered on Tuesday, at one point posting a message that it "will re-engage after Adrian, his family, and staff have reflected on how the current situation impacts the direction for Adrian’s philanthropy."
Peterson has rushed for 10,190 yards and 86 touchdowns in his career. He won the MVP award in 2012 after rushing for 2,097 yards in his return from a torn ACL.