Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson missed practice Thursday to travel to South Dakota for personal reasons. Several reports have indicated that a two-year old boy in critical condition in a Sioux Falls hospital is Peterson's son, though police would not reveal details about the boy's family in a Friday morning press conference. Sean Jensen of the St. Paul Pioneer Press said via Twitter on Friday morning that he spoke with Nelson Peterson, Adrian's father, who told him that the child is indeed Adrian's.
"We are asking for prayers and for respect for our family as deal with this tragic situation," Nelson Peterson told Jensen. ESPN's John Clayton confirmed the report.
TMZ.com reported Friday morning that Peterson's son was in critical condition after he suffered a severe beating at the hands of 27-year-old Joseph Patterson, who had been dating the boy's mother. Law enforcement officials told TMZ that emergency responders arrived at the house on Wednesday afternoon, only to find the boy unresponsive, with multiple head injuries that were "consistent with abuse." (Update: City Pages, a newspaper in Minneapolis, is now reporting that the child "is not expected to survive" his injuries.)
TMZ first misreported that the boy was Adrian Peterson, Jr.
Stu Whitney, sports editor of the Argus Leader in Sioux Falls, reported via Twitter on Thursday that "Adrian Peterson is still in Sioux Falls, dealing with medical issue involving young family member that will likely be a police matter." Per Chip Scoggins of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Peterson was back with the team on Friday.
According to the Argus Leader, Patterson is being held without bond in the Minnehaha County Jail on charges of aggravated assault and aggravated battery of an infant. According to Sioux Falls Police Lt. Blaine Larsen, Patterson was the only one home with the boy, and it was Patterson who called 911 to report a choking
The Argus Leader also clarified that "the assault on an infant charge involves blows, shaking or causing a child’s head to sustain impact with an object in a manner that causes bleeding or swelling on the brain. The crime is punishable by up to 25 years in prison."
Peterson returned to the team's Winter Park facility in time for Friday's practice. The Vikings will host the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.
"He had a difficult day," head coach Leslie Frazier said. "We expect him to play, but we'll talk more over the next 24 hours."
Peterson, however, said that he would play "without a doubt."
"I really appreciate all the support from fans and the Vikings," he said in a brief meeting with local media. "I ask y'all to please respect my privacy, and not ask at all about the situation." “Football is something I will always fall back on," he concluded. "It gets me through tough times. Just being around the guys in here, that’s what I need in my life -- guys supporting me and just being able to go out and play this game I love. Things that I go through, I’ve said a thousand times, it helps me play this game to a different level. I’m able to release a lot of stress through this sport, so that's what I plan on doing."