Adrian Peterson said today that he wants the public to "understand how sorry I feel about the hurt I have brought to my child."
Peterson, the Minnesota Vikings running back who was benched after being charged with child abuse for allegedly disciplining his son with a switch, made his first public statement on the issue today.
"I am not a perfect son. I am not a perfect husband. I am not a perfect parent, but I am, without a doubt, not a child abuser," he said in a statement released through his agent and that he posted on social media today.
"I never imagined being in a position where the world is judging my parenting skills or calling me a child abuser because of the discipline I administered to my son," Peterson said.
The incident occurred at his home in Texas this May but was not known publicly until Friday when he was indicted. He allegedly hit his 4-year-old son with a thin branch and the incident was reported by a doctor who was concerned about how much the boy was bleeding.
"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 the 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 has never spoken publicly about the ways in which he was disciplined as a child, but alluded to having received similar punishments as a child. He said in his statement today, "I have always believed that the way my parents disciplined me has a great deal to do with the success I have enjoyed as a man."
The Vikings benched the star running back for last week’s game but announced today that he will be reinstated this week. His next hearing is on Wednesday and he has not yet entered a plea.
Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman said the team has met with Peterson and his lawyers several times before allowing him to return to the team this week.
"This is a difficult path to navigate... on how a parent disciplines their child," Spielman said. He added, "We believe he deserves to play while the legal process plays out.”
Spielman declined to say whether Peterson's actions were child abuse. "We must defer ot the legal system to determine if he went too far, but we cannot make that judgment," he said.