A teammate of embattled Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson said the All-Pro is itching for his return to the NFL stage this season. Peterson was indicted on felony child abuse charges in September in Texas, but pled down those charges to a misdemeanor last week.
Vikings running back Matt Asiata told the Pioneer Press on Thursday that Peterson is “optimistic” about his return to the team.
"He can't wait to play," Vikings teammate Matt Asiata said Thursday. "He's staying positive. He's staying on the grind and just waiting for the call to come back. ... He's so competitive. He can't wait to come back."
Peterson is currently on the NFL's exempt list, and the NFL Players Association is working to get him reinstated. On Monday, Peterson will sit down with an arbitrator, who will decide if the league should allow him to resume play. The Vikings face the rival Chicago Bears on Sunday afternoon, the ninth game Peterson will miss this season.
"Being his friend and being close to him, I think so," Asiata said. "He's a great person, and he's obviously a great football player. ... I just told him we miss him around the game, and we can't wait to get him back."
On Wednesday, Bears defensive end Jared Allen, who played six seasons with the Vikings, told the Chicago Sun Times that he hopes Peterson can continue his NFL career.
“The Adrian I know was always a kind-hearted, gentle, very generous human being,” Allen said. “Obviously he made a mistake. I just pray that him and his family and his son and everybody that’s going through it, I hope everybody learns [from] it, they can heal their wounds.
“He’s obviously had to deal with the punishment. Do I think his football career should be ended over it? No. Do I hope he learned a valuable lesson and do I think he did? Yeah. Obviously you go through stuff, you face the consequences.
“If he happens to come back the week after we play him — awesome.”
While the arbitrator may decide that Peterson should be reinstated immediately, the league and commissioner Roger Goodell could suspend him under the league’s personal conduct policy.
Following the league’s scandal involving Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice and his suspension for domestic violence, Goodell laid out a new set of punishments for players who are convicted or plead guilty in domestic abuse cases. In Peterson’s case, a first-time offense could result in a six-game suspension.