Peterson was held out of the Vikings’ game on Sunday, a 30-7 loss to the New England Patriots, following his indictment last week in Texas for negligent injury to his 4-year-old son, the latest domestic violence case to rock the NFL.
“Based on the extensive information we have right now, and what we know about Adrian not only as a person but what he has also done for this community, we believe he deserves to play while the legal process plays out,” Vikings general manager Rick Spielman told a news conference.
“At the same time, we must defer to the legal system to determine whether he went too far. But we cannot make that judgment.”
Peterson, who was the NFL’s most valuable player in 2012, is accused of injuring his son last May by hitting him with a tree branch as punishment. If convicted, Peterson, 29, could be sentenced to up to two years in prison and fined $10,000.
“I have to live with the fact that when I disciplined my son the way I was disciplined as a child, I caused an injury that I never intended or thought would happen,” Peterson said in a statement. “I know that many people disagree with the way I disciplined my child.
“I also understand after meeting with a psychologist that there are other alternative ways of disciplining a child that may be more appropriate.”
In response to Peterson’s return to the team, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said: “As in any case involving charges of this nature, the matter is under review.”
Peterson, who will practice this week and play on Sunday when the Vikings visit the New Orleans Saints, said he loved his son and was not a child abuser.
“No one can understand the hurt that I feel for my son and for the harm I caused him,” he said.
A SPATE OF CASES
The NFL has been under scrutiny this season for its handling of another star, former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, who was indefinitely suspended after the release of a video showing him knocking out his then-fiancee, whom he later married. Rice is expected to appeal that suspension.
Two other players involved in domestic violence cases are also under the league’s microscope, Greg Hardy of the Carolina Panthers and Ray McDonald of the San Francisco 49ers.
A Pro Bowl defensive end, Hardy was convicted of domestic violence charges during the summer but has appealed. McDonald was arrested Aug. 31 in San Jose, California, on suspicion of felony domestic violence for allegedly beating up his pregnant fiancee.
Hardy was held out of Sunday’s game, a 24-7 victory over Detroit, while McDonald played in the 49ers’ 28-20 loss to Chicago.
The NFL said on Monday it had hired advisers and counselors to help the league combat the issue. Anna Isaacson, who was the NFL’s vice president of community relations and philanthropy, is now its vice president of social responsibility.