Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer and Running Back Adrian Peterson
Head Coach Mike Zimmer:
It's great to have Adrian (Peterson) back here working out with us again today. He's got such a charismatic smile, an infectious personality. It's good to get him here with the rest of the guys, with the rest of the players. We welcome him with open arms, unequivocally. He's been such a tremendous, tremendous part of this organization. I have the utmost respect for him, always have, I've always supported him 100% and I will continue to do so as long as he's with us, and hopefully that's for a long, long time. I'm proud of Adrian, in the fact that all of the things that he had to go through last year, and we're ready to move forward with football, get him going again, get this football team going. We've got a tremendous, tremendous amount of work to do and even today at practice, it was just fun to see him. The first play of practice, everybody knew Adrian was getting the ball, but Norv (Turner) called a play-action pass so the defense got fooled pretty good on that one. Those are the kind of things that he helps us with. His teammates have welcomed him, the coaches have welcomed him and we know what kind of person and what kind of player he is.
Q: What made you so confident in being able to back Adrian Peterson the way that you have?
A: Because I know the kind of person that he is. I know what's in his heart and I know what kind of person he is.
Q: What have your conversations with him been like over the last week?
A: Adrian and I have talked. I think we've always had very open communication. We've been able to express our opinions fairly openly. I really don't want to get into all of the conversations that we've had. And the comment that I made last week was not about trying to be confrontational, or anything like that, it was just because, of basically this here.
Q: Did you and Adrian talk about that comment?
A: We did.
Q: What was some of the conversation like that you can share?
A: He expressed his opinion and I expressed mine.
Q: Did you have to talk him into coming to OTAs or did he volunteer?
A: No, he volunteered. He'll tell you what he thinks.
Q: How do you go about getting him back into the flow of things after missing the entire year?
A: Like today, Kirby (Wilson) went through everything with him. He spent some extra time with him, Kirby Wilson. We tried to get him acclimated on the things that were going. He's going to have to put in some more work time, as far as all of that. There's really not a prettier sight than when he's got the ball in his hand.
Q: What makes you convinced that he's different than other running backs when they turn 30?
A: One of the things is that I've played against him many times in the past, but other than that, is that I saw a report on 30 year old running backs and some of them had some great, great, great, great years, seven or eight of them. This guy is a Hall of Fame player, he's not just a guy to come in off the street, this guy is really, really special and I love his heart and his competitiveness, the way he wants to win, the way he wants this team to compete for what we all want to win.
Q: What has you communication with the Wilf's been like regarding Adrian Peterson?
A: Really, I'll keep those conversations pretty much the same, but Mark and Zygi and Jonathan, I've been privy to all of these conversations throughout the course of the last 15 months, or whatever it's been, and they have never wavered on their support for him, as well.
Q: What do you like most when you think about the offense you have coming together now?
A: I do believe that we can be very, very explosive. I think to have a talented running back with a talented quarterback and talented receivers and some good tight ends, I think that we can spread the field and it can be good for everyone.
Q: Was there a time in the last few months that you didn't think this day would come?
A: No, not really. I love this kid, I really do. I've said this all along. I wouldn't fly down to Houston to see him if he wasn't important to me and to my program and to our coaches and to the rest of the football team. I mean the players were all hugging him today, it was pretty cool. We didn't practice very good, maybe because we were thinking about other things.
Q: It sounds like it is more than just a business?
A: I think when everybody talks contracts and those types of things, it's business. But football is a game that's played with passion and played for your teammates and played for the chance to compete to prove that you're better. You can't play this game without passion. You can say it's a business all you want, but that's separate from when you get between those white lines and when you're practicing and when you're in there lifting weights and busting your rear-ends with everybody and getting in shape for the season and the excitement that you have right before kickoff, the competitiveness that you have in the 4th quarter at the end of a football game, those things aren't business, those things are all about pride and competing and playing real hard for the guy next to you, or playing real hard for your coach.
Q: What conversations, if any, did you guys have about trading Adrian Peterson up until draft day?
A: None. None.
Q: What was the most difficult part of this entire situation for you?
A: A lot of it was difficult because I had a player that I really, really respected and he was not able to be with us. He had to go through some hard times for himself, but you know, I've made a million mistakes in my life, hopefully, I will continue to learn, but I think we all have those things that come up that we make mistakes, we apologize for them, we go on.
Q: Did the team make any contractual incentives to get Adrian here?
A: No, and I don't get into any of that stuff. I'll always fight for my players. I'll always fight for my players.
Q: Do you think Adrian has things to say and do to repair his relationship with the fan base?
A: You will have to talk to Adrian about that. I think it's best you just talk to him about that, and let me do say this though, I will help him in any possible way that I can, I know these players in this locker room will help him in any possible way that they can, too. He's a Minnesota Viking, he's one of our guys. He's going to be wearing the purple with us and fighting with us and sweating with us.
Running Back Adrian Peterson:
Good afternoon, everyone. It actually feels good to see some familiar faces in here, some maybe not so much, but it definitely feels good to be back in the building. This past year has been emotional for both parties involved. I've learned a lot from my mistake and I'm moving forward. I'm focused on what's in front of me and bettering myself as a person and professionally as a player. Walking through those doors today, I always come in the same route, I don't really ever go through the player's door, I'm always going through the equipment room, so the first guy I seen was (equipment manager) Dennis (Ryan), and he greeted me with a hug, a big smile on his face, it just felt good, it felt good to just kind of be back in the building, to be around the fellas, to be around the people that's been supporting me. Each and every guy in that locker room has been supportive, the people in the building, the front office, I've known these people for over eight years, it's been a lot of love that I've felt through this process and I was able to feel that same love today being around the guys and just being back in the building. I'm just focusing on moving forward and trying to accomplish the ultimate goal, and that's to bring a championship to Minnesota. With that being said, I will open it up to questions and I'll try and do my best to answer those.
Q: What changed from last week not showing up to OTAs, what changed since then?
A: I had personal obligations last week, and ultimately, to be honest with you, I just wanted to. I had a long time to really think about things and ultimately, what it came down to was getting back in the building. I've been working out hard, keeping my body in shape, it came down to just getting back in the building, being around my teammates, being around the coaches and getting back into the swing of things. I reached out, and kind of gave them a heads-up that, hey, I'll be in town and I'll be coming in.
Q: How did you address the team?
A: I didn't address the team at all. There's a lot of faces that I don't know, but the guys that know me, they addressed me and I addressed them. It was family. It was different because I haven't been in the building for a long time, but the love was there. Everyone that greeted me, or that I greeted it was with a hug and rubbing on the head and cracking jokes and things like that, so it was pretty smooth, actually.
Q: Do you feel like you owe anyone an apology for anything that has happened?
A: I've been raising kids for a long time. I kind of go back to my brothers and sisters, having to watch them at times while my mom worked two different jobs. But the first person that I apologized to was my son and that was initially, and that was right after the situation took place when I realized what had happened. I've apologized about the mistake that I've made, it wasn't my intentions. I've been trying to move forward since.
Q: Can you talk about any resentment that occurred in the time off that you had whether it was with some people internally here or whether it was with the media here? How have you gotten past that?
A: Prayer changes things, but there's been emotions from both sides. I'm the type of person that I don't want people -- and even if people feel this way, which they are entitled to think what they want but I'm definitely not the victim and I haven't tried to play the victim in this role. Then again, I'm on the outside and I'm able to really kind of sit back and see everything that's going on whether that's from the organization, whether that's from the state of Minnesota, the state of Texas I'm able to sit back and really see everything. With that, it was tough to kind of sit back and take all of these different blows. So with that, it was definitely emotional for me. I had to stay prayed up. I had a lot of people praying for me. I had a lot of time to kind of sit back and talk to some of my pastors and get some different views about things. Ultimately that allowed me to kind of see things in different light.
Q: How is your son doing and how are you a different father?
A: My son is doing good. He's still active. He's a very intelligent young man. It's funny the first time I saw him during this process he actually came up with a plan to escape and get back down to Texas with me. It's funny, I'll share the story with you real quick. We were sitting in an office with a therapist and the therapist is kind of watching over how we interact so we were sitting there and we're playing, I think we might have been doing a puzzle and he was like, "Dad come here," and he was whispering to me and he was like, "Hey, I've got a plan, I've got an idea," and I'm like, "What are you talking about?", "So I can come down to Houston." So I said, "Okay, let me hear you out." "Alright, so this is what you can do. You can call Uncle Chris – who happens to be my assistant as well – call Uncle Chris and he can fly up and get me, he can sneak me away from my mom and fly me down to Houston so I can be with you," and I was like, "You know that sounds good but I don't think that's a good idea and especially right now I don't think that's going to work out." So the relationship, I'll say that the relationship is good, it's love. I made a mistake and I know a lot of people don't view it that way based off what they saw but ultimately that's what it was. My son knows that, he knows that I love him and my other kids they know the same.
Q: What did you learn in the therapy process to be a different father in terms of discipline moving forward?
A: I learned that I've actually been doing a pretty good job. There are so many different forms of discipline and whether that's time out, taking toys away or snacks and things like that, whatever it might be, and those are forms of discipline that I use. I made a mistake and I'm not taking it lightly at all. It's something that I regret and my son knows that and the people that truly know me and know my character and know what type of person that I am when I'm with my kids or around my kids, they know that as well. That's really, to me, the only thing that matters.
Q: Back in March your agent said that it would be better if you played for another team. Why would he say that? Did you ever want to play somewhere else?
A: My agent, he has a job to do and he was doing his job.
Q: Did you ever want to play somewhere else?
A: I'm going to be absolutely 100 percent with you. With everything going on in my life during that time, I really didn't know what I wanted. I didn't know if I wanted to play somewhere else, if I wanted to retire, if I wanted to go off and get into track, just change it up differently, just do something different. That's where receiving advice from my parents and my advisors really played a big role.
Q: If it were up to you right now would you be on a different team?
A: No. I'm happy where I'm at here with the Minnesota Vikings. I love the coaching staff. I've said it before, I feel like as a group this is the best coaching staff that we've seen since I've been here. I like what they present. We have a young team, a hungry team, an excellent young quarterback who has a year under his belt now and we have a lot of talent. We can accomplish great things.
Q: What's your situation in regards to counseling? Where are you with all of those requirements?
A: I've actually met all of my requirements. As far as my son, that's more personal and I'm not really going to touch into that in detail.
Q: Do you have a message for fans who were upset during the initial incident and how things were handled, for the fans who might feel left out?
A: I just want to say I really appreciate all of the support from the fans. I've watched the games and I've seen 28 jerseys out there and of course Twitter, Facebook, mail, there's been a lot of fan mail and support from the state of Minnesota. I just want to let all of the fans know that I really appreciate the support during this trying time in my life and I'm appreciative.
Q: Tell us what it's going to be like making up for lost time?
A: How do I expect to perform?
Q: Yeah, after missing a year.
A: Oh man. I'll be anxious to get out there, excited. Of course I would have loved to be out there with the guys and playing but that wasn't the case. With that, I've got a year of recovery. My body feels good, feels fresh. My body was able to recover and just rest physically and mentally as well.
Q: Is being 30 similar to the challenge of what you took on with your knee?
A: I feel good. There are young guys, I'm not going to say any names, but there are young guys that I work out with in Houston, younger guys like 24, 25 and first-year guys that are going to play and I outrun them, outjump them and everything else. With that being said, age is just a number. It's all about how you view it mentally.
Q: You mentioned the coaching staff being supportive but how about Coach Zimmer in specific? He was very verbal about how he loves you and always wanted you on this team. How did his relationship or even his words help you decide to come back for these OTAs and not wait until minicamp?
A: A lot, maybe even more so than he knows. He's just one of those guys, one of those coaches that really don't want to disappoint because you understand, you're able to see that he has the same passion for the game as you. He's going to do the right thing whether that's a guy that's starting that's started two years and someone comes in and outplays this guy, going to put them in there or just shoot it to you straight whether you like it or not. Me, as a competitor, I love that type of mentality and he's always been straightforward with me during this process. He's been supportive as well. Considering the other coaches as well and Coach Zimmer, that played a role.
Q: Is there one thing you want people to know that was in your head or mind throughout the process that you want people to know?
A: That's a good question. I would just say that I love all of my kids with all of my heart and I'll run through a brick wall for them, I'll jump in front of a car for them. That's the type of love that I have for my kids. I understand because it's the world that we live in and we have so many people in this world that has their own opinion or view things and make their own assumptions and, "Oh, it had to happen this way" or "Oh, it had to happen that way" and a lot of people like to run with negative things and I'm used to that in life, not just in my life but things that I see in this world, but I'm comfortable with knowing my intentions and I'm comfortable with knowing that my child loves me and he wants to be around me. So yeah, that's pretty much it. I love all of my kids with all of my heart and there isn't nothing that I wouldn't do for them.