Owner/Chairman Zygi Wilf:
Good morning everyone. We have given this issue much thought and consideration since last Friday. We have decided that the appropriate course of action for the organization and for Adrian [Peterson] is to put him on the (Exempt/Commissioner's Permission List) until the legal proceedings are complete. We made a mistake and we needed to get this right. We embrace our role in the community and the responsibilities that go with it. It is important to always listen to our fans, the community and our sponsors. Our goal is to always make the decision that we feel is right for the Minnesota Vikings and to be clear, we have a strong stance regarding the protection and welfare of children. We want to be sure we get this right. Adrian will be away from the team and focus on his personal situation. We will support Adrian during this legal and personal process but we firmly believe this is the right decision. Thank you.
Q: Did the pullout of several corporate and charitable sponsors make this a financial decision?
Mark Wilf: Absolutely not. Like my brother just said, we value our partners, our sponsors, the community and especially our fans. In the end, it really is about getting it right and that's what we wanted to do here. We made a mistake and the main thing is we are getting it right and that's how we came to this decision.
Q: What kind of reaction did you get from women in response to the initial decision to reinstate Adrian? How much did that factor into the decision?
Mark Wilf: Again, like I said, we appreciate our fans, men and women alike, our sponsors and the community. We hear their input but in the end we as ownership, we as a franchise, we have to make sure that our reputation and the team was moving in the right direction and we felt in the end that this was the right decision. We made a mistake and we are doing the right thing.
Q: How much of a black eye do you think that this has been to the organization? What do you have to do to overcome it?
Mark Wilf: I think there is a process to this and we have great fans, a great community and I know, I know, that in the end if we do the right thing, those things will fall in place and that's what we aim to do.
Q: Are any of you willing to apologize to the mother and the son in this situation?
Mark Wilf: Again, our focus is to get things right. We support Adrian in the terms of the personal level that he has to get his personal life in order and get things right. But we as an organization, as a franchise, that was our intent here, to make sure this is right and as was said before, and I want to reiterate, we take very seriously these types of things, especially when we are talking about children. We have a long standing record of being very supportive of children and youth and it's something we take very seriously. We feel if we get this right that those things will take care of itself and we're going to work to improve in those areas.
Q: The players union said that this decision was made by Adrian. You guys said the Vikings made the decision. Who made it?
Rick Spielman: I'll tell you this. We worked through this issue yesterday. We asked for the exemption, the Commissioner's Exemption. Only the Commissioner can grant that exemption. I know we worked very hard with Ben Dogra, his representative, and Adrian. I spent time with Adrian yesterday and also I know, I believe the union and the NFL had also collaborated on this. We came up with what we thought was the best resolution for everybody.
Q: Can you say that Adrian will play again for the Minnesota Vikings?
Rick Spielman: Our focus right now today is to get this right and we admitted making a mistake and we want to get this right and we want to support Adrian and that's the most important thing right now is to support him through his legal and his personal matters but we want to make sure that we get this right as of today.
Kevin Warren: To follow up on one thing that Rick said to, that is very important, the question was asked about who started this. It's very clear that the Minnesota Vikings are the ones that initiated this process with the National Football League in regards to this current situation. It was the Vikings.
Q: Can you elaborate on that. What do you mean initiated?
Kevin Warren: The question was asked in regards to was this something that Adrian, or the Union, or whatever, but I think it's very important, this was a decision made by the Vikings, by our ownership and we went to the League to say this is what we want to do and then we came up with the best mechanism to accomplish that. I just wanted to make that clear.
Q: When you brought Adrian into the loop on this did he agree?
Rick Spielman: I specifically spent time with Adrian and his representatives yesterday. We felt, and Adrian felt, that it was best in his, and I won't speak for Adrian, but he felt it was best for him to be able to step away to take care of his legal and personal matters and I believe he said in his statement as well, that he wants ours coaches and players to be able to focus on football as he takes care of these personal matters.
Q: The prosecutor said there won't be a trial until 2015. Is it safe to say he's done playing for the season?
Rick Spielman: You don't know that as of today. I don't know the legal proceedings yet and when the trials are and all of that stuff.
Q: The prosecutor said 2015.
Rick Spielman: That's where it is scheduled today. Under the assumption, what we said in our statement, is that until these legal matters are resolved that he will remain on this exemption list.
Q: You've said you wanted to get it right. You took the three days over the weekend and came to the conclusion to reinstate him. How did you get it wrong?
Mark Wilf: I know that, again, our fans and the people that know us, we want to make sure it's right and that's the important thing here.
Q: Did you underestimate what the backlash would be?
Mark Wilf: I don't want to Monday morning quarterback what it was. We constantly strive as an organization to do the right thing. It's a fluid situation here and it's an ongoing process. We're constantly talking and thinking about these things. We realized that there are a lot of interested groups in this, especially people related to the Vikings. Like I said, our fans and the community and our sponsors. So in the end, the goal is always for us to be a first-class organization and to get it right and we feel we've done so.
Q: Who is representing Adrian Peterson in this legal process?
Kevin Warren: To make it very clear, Adrian's lawyer is Rusty Hardin out of Houston, Texas. We at the Vikings will monitor the legal situation from afar but his personal lawyer is Rusty Hardin out of Houston, Texas.
Q: Why did all of this come out at 12:47 a.m.? Is that when you decided?
Mark Wilf: Like I said, there are a lot of people discussing this, working through it and Rick can speak as well through it. There are a lot of interested parties in this so we felt once we got it right to get it out when we got it right, and that's when we got it right.
Q: What are your thoughts on the statements issued yesterday by Governor Dayton?
Mark Wilf: Well again as I've said, we value this community. The Minnesota Vikings are such an important part to this state, the upper Midwest and to all of our fans around the world. We appreciate their input, them, the sponsors, the fans, the community very much so. In the end however, as ownership and as stewards as this great franchise, we had to make the right decision and whatever that took to get us there we were going to get there and we are always striving to do that.
Q: How much have the Vikings investigated the Adrian situation and is that continuing?
Kevin Warren: As you are aware, any time these types of situations arise, you are in a perpetual state of gathering as much information as you possibly can from as many sources as you possibly can. As I just answered for Mr. Fitzgerald, during this entire process, the next hearing update all the way up until there is a trial, we will continually monitor this situation and gather any and all information we can. To answer your question, we work very hard and very diligently with multiple sources to make sure that we gather information to be able to consider it to make the best possible decision. As Mark said, all along our whole goal was to make sure that we did everything that we possibly could to make the best possible decision and to get it right.
Q: Have you reviewed any of the evidence from the case?
Kevin Warren: Yes.
Q: What did you think of it?
Kevin Warren: Again, I've reviewed it and I think Adrian will have his opportunity in the legal system to have his day in court at the appropriate time and as I said, he has lawyers who represent him. For me personally, we did gather the information, reviewed everything that I was able to gather and I think at the appropriate time it will become very clear as far as what the people in Texas feel about what Adrian did or did not do.
Q: How did you come up with the idea of an exemption?
Rick Spielman: I can answer that question. This is an unusual exemption and I know everybody has probably read what the exemption is about. This can only get granted by the commissioner. I think in this circumstance, in this unique case, as we looked at ways to make sure we were able to get this right we had communicated with the league on possibilities on how to do this. Working with the league, and I know the league working with the Union and us working diligently with Adrian and his agent, this was the best possible solution.* *
Kevin Warren: Any time you have these cases of what I would call a first impression, you need to think outside of the box and become creative to work within the rules, within the CBA to consider all of the legal implications and we felt, as Rick alluded to, that this was the best possible way to accomplish those goals within the confines of the rules that currently exist.
Q: Was releasing him an option you discussed?
Rick Spielman: Everybody asked, "would you have cut him," and we felt after we reviewed everything this was the best possible solution.
Q: To what degree did you consider suspending him up to four games under the CBA?
Rick Spielman: Again, when getting into the Collective Bargaining Agreement and looking at all of our options out there, we felt this was the best solution to go forward.
Q: You can release players on the exempt list, are you committed to keeping him on the exempt list?
Rick Spielman: As we said in our statement, we are going to let the legal process and let his personal matters take care of themself and he will remain on the exempt list until that is accomplished.
Q: To what extent did Adrian express any objection about the decision you made at any point?
Rick Spielman: I'm not going to get into our personal conversation, but I can tell you this, Adrian is an unselfish person and saw all of the light that was coming on this and he felt from his side as well, that by him stepping back, it would give our football team an opportunity to focus on football.
Q: To what extent do you think the franchise was damaged by this incident?
Mark Wilf: Again, I think our actions are going to go a long way here. I think we have great support in the community. We do so many good things in the community. I mentioned about youth and community. All 53 players on our roster do community service. There is a lot of good that goes on in this organization. We are very proud of this organization. We're disappointed when off the field matters don't go the proper way and we're just trying to do the right thing. I think our constituents, if you will, our fans and sponsors of the community, I think they are going to understand that we are doing our best as ownership and a franchise to do the right thing and that's the only thing that's going to matter in the end is that we do that.
Q: What kind of reaction have you heard from your sponsors?
Mark Wilf: We are in constant communication with our sponsors. We have great relationships with them, we value their input and we are always having a constant dialogue. We're confident that getting things right and I keep talking about that, but that's very important here. That's what they're concerned with. The Minnesota Vikings have a great history and a great brand and I think our sponsors recognize that and we are constantly in communication with them to get through.
Q: Why is it just today that ownership is coming out to address the situation?
Mark Wilf: I'm not sure who exactly said it - it's never too late to get it right. The fact is we are getting it right, now. I think it's best for all parties concerned, the Vikings and for Adrian to move forward. We have a game coming up this Sunday, I know Coach Zimmer will speak to you about preparations for that and the season going forward and that's what our ultimate goal is, to get on the field and be a winning franchise as well as being a first class organization. The sooner we can get things right and move forward to our business, which is playing football and winning games, the better off we are.
Q: Will Adrian collect his salary while he is on the exempt list?
Rick Spielman: Adrian will be getting paid under this exemption. Adrian and players that go under this exemption do get paid.
Q: How is this going to affect your team football-wise moving forward?
Rick Spielman: Coach Zimmer will address that as well, I'm sure you will ask him that question. I know the type of football players that we have on this football team, I know the type of coaches we have on this football team, I know that this is a distraction but I also know our players will be honed in and focused and ready to go out there and compete against the New Orleans Saints this weekend and that's what everybody gets paid to do.
Q: Did anyone from the NFL pressure the team to not have Adrian Peterson play on Sunday?
Mark Wilf: No, absolutely not. This is our decision 100% and like I said all along, we're aiming to get it right and we feel we have got it right here.