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driver’s license, which was revoked after Henderson registered a blood-alcohol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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