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Spielman, Zimmer Address The Media

Posted Sep 15, 2014

Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman

Good afternoon. As the ownership said earlier, today’s decision was made after extensive thought, discussion and consideration. On Friday there was a significant amount of uncertainty and information coming in. We felt it was best to step back, evaluate the situation, and keep Adrian [Peterson] out of the game this past weekend. Over the weekend and early this morning, we gathered as much information as we possibly could, had multiple conversations with Adrian’s attorneys and met several times with Adrian personally. Based on all of that, we made the decision that we felt was the right decision at this time. This is a very important issue. I want to take time to emphasize that the issue of child welfare is extremely serious and should be taken serious, not only by us but by everybody. We are trying to do the right thing. This is a difficult path to navigate regarding the judgment of how a parent disciplines his child. Based on the extensive information that we have right now and what we know about Adrian not only as a person but what he has also done for this community, we believe he deserves to play while the legal process plays out. At the same time, we must defer to the legal system to determine whether he went too far, but we cannot make that judgment. Adrian will be active for this weekend’s game but we will continue to monitor the situation and make the decision we feel is best for this organization and all parties going forward.

Q: What message are you sending to abuse victims by playing him?

A: I understand that this is a very difficult thing to handle. But we also feel strongly as an organization that this is disciplining a child. Whether it’s an abusive situation or not, or whether he went too far disciplining, we feel very strongly that that is the court’s decision to make, but we also understand the seriousness of abusing children as well.

Q: You reinstated Chris Cook a few years ago but told him to stay away. What’s the difference?

A: Those were all different situations. Based on the facts that we are able to gather, we make those determinations as an organization based on individual situations that have arose. I cannot go into detail on the facts and all of the information we gather but once we gather all of the information we can, that’s when we make our determination and base our decision.  

Q: You mentioned that you have talked to Adrian and his attorneys. Have you talked to the police or prosecutors? Have you seen any of the evidence they used to indict him?

A: Again, you have to respect that there is a legal process that’s in place. We have seen everything that’s in the file. I will not get into any detail just because I hope that you can respect that the legal process is going to take its course. Everything and all the information that we’ve been able to gather as of today, this is the decision that we felt was best.

Q: Have you talked to the National Football League?

A: We’ve been in communication. There is a protocol that every team follows when there is an incident with a player, so yes, we’ve been in communication with the NFL. But the decision to play Adrian is not a decision made by the NFL. The decision to play Adrian, again, is made by this organization.

Q: What guidance did the NFL give you?

A: There’s protocol in place on how we report everything. We reported it to the NFL, they were aware of the situation, but the decision based on having Adrian inactive this weekend was from our organization and the decision going forward as of today is our organization’s decision.

Q: What file did you see?

A: I won’t get into the details but we did a very, I should say as extensive as we could, try to gather as much information from when we found out about the formal indictment on Friday to all the way up until we were speaking before I came before you today.

Q: After seeing the evidence of the case, why do you rely on the court system and due process?

A: We did not have all of the information on Friday. It’s different. We have a lot more information today.

Q: Was the evidence any different?

A: We didn’t know where we were at on Friday. We found out about this on Friday afternoon. We wanted to take the weekend to step back as an organization and we felt it was best not only for this organization but for our football team and for Adrian to take care of everything personally he had to take care of over the weekend. We continued to gather as much information as we could and that’s where we are at as of today.

Q: What do you think the arrest history dating back to 2000 says about the team?

A: Again, we’re looking at each of these cases individually. I am not going to go through every case on a player arrested and what the circumstances were under those situations. We try extremely hard to educate our players, we have extra programs that we have put in place. We’ve done everything, working not only with the NFL but doing things outside of what, I would assume most teams do. We really try to take care extra steps to try to educate our players on making the right decisions off the field.  

Q: But you kept Chris Cook away from here. Does it have to do with winning a game?

A: Again, that’s totally different. It has nothing to do with that. It has to do with the information that we have gathered.

Q: What part of those photos don’t tell you it’s abuse?

A: When you look at the photos, the photos are disturbing. I understand that. But to be clear, any matter that’s involving the child is very important for this organization but we also think that it is right for him to go through the process legally.  

Q: When he was away for a few days this summer what did you guys know?  

A: From a timeline, we’ve been in constant communication with his attorneys. I won’t get into what happened during that time. That’s for his representatives and his attorneys to discuss with you. We were aware of the situation, but we did not know of any formal charges until actually this Friday.  

Q: What will a jury say change about what you can see with your eyes?

A: Again, I don’t know. It hasn’t been in front of a jury yet. What we have is what we are aware of right now. Collecting all of the facts and all of the evidence that we can to make this decision and we felt that this was the best decision going forward.

Q: If you suspended him before the league, would that hinder the NFL’s ability to do the same?

A: There is a protocol that we follow with the league. We determined this weekend that he was going to be inactive based on everything that had happened as of Friday afternoon and it was best for our organization. After evaluating that, we made the determination today that he will play going forward until he gets his day in court where he can defend himself for his allegations but right now we take the right steps with the NFL and then the NFL goes from there.

Q: When was the first time you heard of all of this? Friday?

A:  I won’t get into the details of when we knew the situation but we’ve been in constant communication with their attorneys and what was going on.  

Q: You’ve made quick judgment on players in these situations before. Does it change that he’s a good player?

A: It has nothing to do with him as a football player. It has to do based purely on the facts that we have that have been presented to us.

Q: With all of the media here and the scrutiny, how big of a concern is it that this is going to be a distraction?

A: It comes with what’s going on, I understand that, but I also understand that we did our due diligence the best way we can and collected the best and most information we have to date. Based off of everything that we’ve been able to gather to date, this is the decision the organization made. By no means do we take lightly the child abuse or anything with children.  

Q: Did Adrian tell you he was testifying before a grand jury those two days he was gone?

A: I won’t get into the details of what we knew and not knew. I’ll just say we’ve been in constant communication with his representatives.

Q: Did you know in June when all of this was going on?

A: No.  

Q: You didn’t know in June?

A: No.

Q: In his statement Adrian said he saw a psychologist. Was that over the weekend?

A: I know the statement that Adrian just put out. That was from his representatives and his attorneys. We were not involved with what his statement was. He wrote that purely from his representatives and attorneys and you can ask Adrian those questions or his representatives of what was put in that statement.

Q: Is this a sign that ownership believes he will be acquitted?

A: I don’t know if you take it as a sign. I just know that based on what we know as of today and the facts that we know, we feel that this was the best decision for our organization.

Q: Has the NFL stepped in or is he good to go for the rest of the season?

A: You’ll have to speak to the NFL on that.

Q: Do you have any reason to believe they will?

A: You’ll have to speak to the NFL on that.

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer

I think Rick (Spielman) handled all of those things. I’m here to talk about the game yesterday and the situation what it is. New England played a very good football game and we obviously didn’t play very well, especially towards the end of the second quarter. The blocked field goal for the touchdown kind of put an extra damper on it. With the four interceptions, we didn’t do enough good things to win the football game.

Q: How difficult is it for all of this to be thrust upon you after your first game as a head coach?

A: I’ve been in the NFL for 21 years. I’ve seen a lot of things. We just go about our business and keep working as hard as we can and try to get the football team better each day.

Q: What message is this team sending to abuse victims around the country with Adrian Peterson playing?

A: I think that not only to abuse victims, but I think we all understand how serious the allegations are. Rick (Spielman) has handled all of these questions and I’m going to defer all of these to him.

Q: Did you think that this is what you were signing up for when you became a head coach?

A: You sign up for everything when you become the head coach. You sign up for the good days and the bad days, the days where you get beat whatever the score was yesterday, 30-7, and the 34-6 wins. It’s not my most favorite time, but that’s the way it is.

Q: Do you anticipate Adrian Peterson to be in attendance for practice all week?

A: I anticipate that he will be here, yes.

Q: Have you talked to Adrian Peterson to try and gauge his focus level?

A: I’ve been in constant contact with Adrian all of the time. I know that he wants to be back around with the guys and play and everything else. How about those Patriots yesterday?

Q: How has your role changed in these situations being a head coach compared to being a coordinator?

A: It’s obviously different just because Marvin (Lewis) handled a lot of those things, when I was in Cincinnati and as it will be here, we’re going to work extremely hard to get the guys to understand what kind of people that our fans want them to be like, what kind of team we want to have and what kind of individuals we want to have. We did that when I was in Cincinnati and we will continue to do that here.

Q: Is there anything you wanted to hear in particular from Adrian Peterson the last couple of days?

A: Nothing particularly. I wanted to see how he was, obviously. How his demeanor is. We have heart-to-hearts and I like to keep it between us, the things we’ve talked about.

Q: How do you personally get through adversity in times like this and what is your message to your team?

A: My dad, when he was coaching me when I was growing up, he said, “Tough times don’t last but tough people do.” It’s time to get back to work, put our nose to the grindstone, get on the tape, start focusing on the New Orleans Saints. That’s what we do, we get back to work. 

Q: Have you seen an “us against the world” mentality from your guys?

A: I met with them this morning for a short period of time, so it’s hard to me to gauge anything like that. I hope that we have enough intestinal fortitude that we want to get better each and every day, regardless of what the situation is, regardless of all of those circumstances.

Q: How do evaluate your drop in focus and crispness from the preseason and Week One to what happened yesterday?

A: I think New England had a lot to do with it. They played very well. They had a good plan going in. Obviously, offensively they wanted to run the football and get the ball out of (Tom) Brady’s hands quickly. Defensively, they did a good job of disrupting our routes. It’s never good but you try to learn something from every experience that you’re in. This was the first time with myself, with this football team, when things went kind of south, I had to find out a little bit about how we react. When you get punched in the mouth, how you react in some of these situations. I know a little bit more about them today than I did yesterday, maybe more so than if we would have won.

Q: Like what?

A: Just how we reacted, it was the first time I’ve seen some of the not as much urgency, offensively. Maybe doing our own thing a little bit defensively, as opposed to continually doing what we’ve been teaching them to do. Those things are good to coach off of, how we can get them to understand that part of the reason why we’ve looked like a good football team and clean as you said, we can revert back to, getting back to doing what we do all of the time and that’s why we we’ve been playing good I believe. Obviously, the turnovers didn’t help and the blocked field goal, even the other circumstances I’m talking about.

Q: You said when you were putting this team together you wanted good people to build a football program, do you feel your hands are being tied in anyway in this situation?

A: No. I don’t. I think we’ll always to continue to look at that, look for those kind of guys. I’ve got a sign up here somewhere that says something to that effect. Honestly, we have good people on this football team. We have good guys on this football team and I will continue to preach being good people, people that the fans are excited about. It’s also important that when I ask these players to do the things that I ask them to do, to fight for me, to run through the wall for me that I’m able to help do my very best to help support them when I can.

Q: How do you prevent personal opinions in your locker room from dividing the team?

A: This is America, everybody has got their opinions on everything and that’s partly what makes this country great. I think it’s good to be able to voice your opinion, even when you’re in a team setting. Everybody doesn’t always agree on everything, I mean I disagree with some of the things the coaches say and I’m sure they disagree with some of the things we say. The most important thing is, we are able to speak our mind, say what we thing and then come out of there together.

Q: As a coach how do you prevent this from becoming a distraction for your players?

A: The same thing that I’ve said all along, we just get to work. My focus is on trying to get this football team better and play the Saints and how we can improve each day. There’s obviously a lot of things that we have to keep working through, but this team has been very, very focused in everything that we’ve done since I have walked in the door. I want to continue to try to do that.

Q: What are your thoughts on the return of Mike Priefer?

A: I think it’s good. I’m proud that Mike did the things that he had to do. I’m proud that we didn’t ruin a guy’s career because he made a mistake. I’m glad that we were able to stand by him. I appreciate all his hard work and the things that he has done during these two weeks, we’re glad to have him back.

Q: Was there a recurring theme with what went wrong with special teams yesterday?

A: I could have done a better job, to be honest with you. I could have done a better job. Put that one on me.

Q: Yourself and John Harbaugh have been out in front talking about things others than X’s and O’s as head coach you become the face of the franchise, how much did you expect that role and are you prepared for that?

A: That’s a good question. Prepared for it and expect it? Probably not much as you should, but it comes with the territory. My dream is still to take this football team and this organization to where we want to go. I can’t let the so called, “distractions” or the things like this that we are dealing with today affect my focus and my trying to get this football team better. I’ve worked an awful long time to try to get to this position where I have to opportunity to do the things that we have to opportunity to do. I’m going to keep trying to do my very best.

Q: How much input did you have in reactivating Adrian Peterson?

A: I was involved in all of the conference calls and there were several, many, many as Rick (Spielman) said, Rick stated a lot of this stuff. I was involved. It was an ownership decision, I mean they took all of the advice in there and then went from there. We as an organization, we decide what we feel is the right thing in all of these issues. I don’t know how much input I had, to be honest with you. Most people in this room know me and know I’m going to say my opinion all of the time.

Q: Is Matt Kalil still dealing with an injury?

A: The guy he went again yesterday, obviously, he probably went to Canton yesterday. He had a great game, blocked the field goal and scored the touchdown. Matt’s still working on some things, we talked a little bit this morning, him and I about some stuff. He’s going to have to continue to get better. We have got to get him better. We expect him to get better.

Q: How do you evaluate Xavier Rhodes and his confidence level?

A: I don’t think he has any confidence issues. There is a very fine line between the pass interference and covering a guy close. The thing that he did yesterday on most all of those situations, we talk a lot around here about having contested catches and making sure the guys in there. Sometimes, you’re going to get those things. Obviously, we don’t want penalties defensively. The good thing is, if you want to take a positive out of that, we were pretty darn close to the receivers on all of these situations, now we have to keep perfecting the technique of not only being in the right place and contesting catches but not committing a foul.