EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Vikings Chief Operating Officer Kevin Warren said Thursday that he considers Adrian Peterson "part of our Vikings family" that hasn't really left even though the star running back hasn't been at team headquarters since September.
Warren is preparing for his 11th season with the Vikings and was promoted from Executive Vice President of Legal Affairs and Chief Administrative Officer at a Thursday morning staff meeting led by Owner/President Mark Wilf. Warren is the highest ranking African American on the business operations side of a team in the NFL.
One of Warren's first activities as COO was to join media for a conference call that covered his promotion and vision for the franchise. He was also asked about what the future might have in store for Peterson.
"Here's my feeling, I think our organization and individuals in our organization, from (Owner/Chairman) Zygi Wilf to Mark Wilf to Coach (Mike) Zimmer to (General Manager) Rick Spielman have made it very clear that they all would welcome Adrian back once he gets all the open items resolved with the league, and I feel the exact same way," Warren said.
Peterson was deactivated after the 2014 season opener, and then he was placed on the Commissioner's Exempt List. A suspension announced by Roger Goodell went into effect before the final three games of the season and is scheduled to last at least until April 15, 2015.
Goodell issued conditions that Peterson must complete in order to return, but the NFL Players Association appealed the ruling in federal court on Feb. 6.
Warren, who attended that hearing, told reporters that Peterson has made an impact on the field and many positive contributions to the community off the field.
"Adrian has spent his entire career here, and he has been not only an absolutely phenomenal football player and a joy to watch," Warren said. "I've been fortunate to watch every single game, preseason and regular season, that he's played in a Vikings uniform. Also, he's been a phenomenal individual in our community. He's done so many good things that the public and media have heard about, and there are a lot of other things that he does on a very quiet and personal basis. So, my feelings about Adrian, I have great respect for him as a football player and as a person. He's part of our Vikings family. I would welcome him back with open arms, and as I said, I don't think he ever left anywhere."
Mark Wilf, at Wednesday's unveiling of the Wilf Family Center at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital, also commented about the community service Peterson has done for the area since Minnesota drafted him in the first round of the 2007 NFL Draft, as well as his impact on the field.
"He's done a lot for us on the football field as well, and of course, he's a Minnesota Viking and we'd love to have him back," Wilf said. "Of course a lot depends on the NFL and the steps he's making on his own personal journey, but that's where we're at with it."
Warren said he looks forward to Peterson having the opportunity to play football again and added, "I hope that he finishes his career here in Minnesota."
"I hope we can win multiple Super Bowls together, and I hope I can attend his Hall of Fame induction in Canton one day many years down the road, so I hope that sets it straight of how I feel about Adrian Peterson," Warren said.