Gov. Mark Dayton of Minnesota added his voice to the roiling controversy over domestic violence in the NFL when he said Adrian Peterson, the Vikings' star running back who faces child abuse charges in Texas, should be suspended by the team.While emphasizing that Peterson should be considered innocent until proven guilty, Dayton said in a statement that Peterson "is a public figure; and his actions, as described, are a public embarrassment to the Vikings organization and the state of Minnesota. Therefore, I believe the team should suspend Mr. Peterson until the accusations of child abuse have been resolved by the criminal justice system."
After benching Peterson for Sunday's game against the New England Patriots, who won by 23 points, the Vikings said Monday that they would reinstate Peterson for this week's game against the New Orleans Saints.
The Vikings' decision comes as teams across the league grapple with the NFL's inconsistent treatment of players accused of crimes, including domestic violence. The San Francisco 49ers have let Ray McDonald play after he was arrested in August on suspicions of domestic violence, and the Carolina Panthers let Greg Hardy, who was convicted of domestic violence charges but not suspended by the league, play in the season opener.
A month after the NFL suspended the former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice for two games for striking his fiancee - a decision many critics felt was too lenient - Commissioner Roger Goodell apologized and strengthened the league's penalties for players convicted in domestic violence cases.
Last week, Goodell suspended Rice a second time - this time indefinitely - after video of him knocking out Janay Palmer, who is now his wife, was published.
The uproar over the league's handling of domestic violence has spread to Capitol Hill, where members of Congress have called on Goodell to do more to address the issue. Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand, D-N.Y., has said hearings can be called on the matter.
Anheuser-Busch, one of the NFL's biggest sponsors, issued a strong statement Tuesday, saying it shared its concerns and expectations with the league.
"We are disappointed and increasingly concerned by the recent incidents that have overshadowed this NFL season," it read. "We are not yet satisfied with the league's handling of behaviors that so clearly go against our own company culture and moral code."
Back in Minnesota, the Radisson Hotel chain said it had temporarily suspended its sponsorship of the Vikings. The Radisson name is emblazoned on the screens that serve as a backdrop for news conferences by team personnel. The company's name was seen on television Monday when the Vikings' general manager, Rick Spielman, spoke to reporters about the team's decision to reinstate Peterson for its next game.
"Radisson takes this matter very seriously, particularly in light of our long-standing commitment to the protection of children," the company said in a statement. "We are closely following the situation and, effective immediately, Radisson is suspending its limited sponsorship of the Minnesota Vikings while we evaluate the facts and circumstances."
Some of the league's national sponsors, including Verizon, have issued statements supporting Goodell and their commitment to the NFL.
New York Times