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 four-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.”
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.
In a new development, Houston television station KHOU reported on Monday it obtained photos and text messages it said indicated the player might have injured another young son.
KHOU reported that when the boy was visiting Peterson in the Houston area, the football player sent the boy’s mother a photo of the child with bandages on his head.
According to KHOU, Peterson said at first the boy hit his head on a carseat, but when the mother texted that she suspected he got “a whoopin in the car”, Peterson responded: “Yep”.
The report could not be confirmed by Reuters. A spokeswoman for Houston police declined to comment, but Peterson’s attorney, Rusty Hardin, said in a statement the allegation was “unsubstantiated and was shopped around to authorities in two states over a year ago and nothing came of it.”
“An adult witness adamantly insists Adrian did nothing inappropriate with his son. There is no ongoing or new investigation,” Hardin added.
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-fiancée, 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 31 August in San Jose, California, on suspicion of felony domestic violence for allegedly beating up his pregnant fiancée.
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.