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Watch the Vikings’ Position on Adrian Peterson Change over Four Statements

The Minnesota Vikings have issued four statements since their star running back Adrian Peterson was indicted in Houston on child abuse charges last week, representing at least three different positions on the unfolding controversy, and culminating in Peterson’s indefinite deactivation last night.

As the situation has progressed so have the team’s statements, going from clipped, nothing-to-see-here language emanating from some omniscient narrator to the team owners personally stressing the seriousness of the child abuse and adding effusive caveats about due process. Track the changes below.

Here’s the team’s initial statement:

The Vikings are in the process of gathering information regarding the legal situation involving Adrian Peterson. At this time, we will defer further questions to Adrian’s attorney Rusty Hardin.

Later that day, the team deactivated Peterson in a statement so blunt it was practically Old Testament:

The Vikings have deactivated Adrian Peterson for this Sunday’s game against the Patriots.

It was the decision to reinstate Peterson that the team seemed to feel required actual paragraphs. Following the Vikings’ 30-7 loss to the New England Patriots over the weekend — and reports that Peterson had beaten another child in an earlier incident — Monday’s statement came from owners Zygi Wilf and Mark Wilf and emphasized both the team’s concern over child welfare and the need to respect the complex mechanisms of the legal process.

By late Tuesday, however, after Vikings sponsor Radisson Hotels had suspended its sponsorship and Anheuser-Busch issued an dyspeptic statement chiding the league’s handling of the Peterson and Rice issues, the Wilfs were just as concerned about child welfare, but gone was the importance of due process, replaced by the necessity of Peterson to “take care of his personal situation,” preferably as far from the team as humanly possible.

Here are the key graphs, with certain language repeated:

Monday: To be clear, we take very seriously any matter that involves the welfare of a child. At this time, however, we believe this is a matter of due process and we should allow the legal system to proceed so we can come to the most effective conclusions and then determine the appropriate course of action. This is a difficult path to navigate, and our focus is on doing the right thing. Currently we believe we are at a juncture where the most appropriate next step is to allow the judicial process to move forward. [E.A.]

Tuesday night: We want to be clear: we have a strong stance regarding the protection and welfare of children, and we want to be sure we get this right. At the same time we want to express our support for Adrian and acknowledge his seven-plus years of outstanding commitment to this organization and this community. Adrian emphasized his desire to avoid further distraction to his teammates and coaches while focusing on his current situation; this resolution accomplishes these objectives as well. [E.A.]

That’s their story now, and they’re sticking to it, at least until the next development. Read the full statements from the Minnesota Vikings below:

Statement on reinstating Peterson 9/15:

Today’s decision was made after significant thought, discussion and consideration. As evidenced by our decision to deactivate Adrian from yesterday’s game, this is clearly a very important issue. On Friday, we felt it was in the best interests of the organization to step back, evaluate the situation, and not rush to judgment given the seriousness of this matter. At that time, we made the decision that we felt was best for the Vikings and all parties involved.

To be clear, we take very seriously any matter that involves the welfare of a child. At this time, however, we believe this is a matter of due process and we should allow the legal system to proceed so we can come to the most effective conclusions and then determine the appropriate course of action. This is a difficult path to navigate, and our focus is on doing the right thing. Currently we believe we are at a juncture where the most appropriate next step is to allow the judicial process to move forward.

We will continue to monitor the situation closely and support Adrian’s fulfillment of his legal responsibilities throughout this process.

Statement on Peterson’s indefinite suspension 9/16 (not, notably, posted to the Vikings’ website yet):

“This has been an ongoing and deliberate process since last Friday’s news. In conversations with the NFL over the last two days, the Vikings advised the League of the team’s decision to revisit the situation regarding Adrian Peterson. In response, the League informed the team of the option to place Adrian on the Exempt/Commissioner’s Permission list, which will require that Adrian remain away from all team activities while allowing him to take care of his personal situation until the legal proceedings are resolved. After giving the situation additional thought, we have decided this is the appropriate course of action for the organization and for Adrian.

“We are always focused on trying to make the right decision as an organization. We embrace our role – and the responsibilities that go with it – as a leader in the community, as a business partner and as an organization that can build bridges with our fans and positively impact this great region. We appreciate and value the input we have received from our fans, our partners and the community.

“While we were trying to make a balanced decision yesterday, after further reflection we have concluded that this resolution is best for the Vikings and for Adrian. We want to be clear: we have a strong stance regarding the protection and welfare of children, and we want to be sure we get this right. At the same time we want to express our support for Adrian and acknowledge his seven-plus years of outstanding commitment to this organization and this community. Adrian emphasized his desire to avoid further distraction to his teammates and coaches while focusing on his current situation; this resolution accomplishes these objectives as well.

“We will support Adrian during this legal and personal process, but we firmly believe and realize this is the right decision. We hope that all of our fans can respect the process that we have gone through to reach this final decision.”

[Image via Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department]

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