Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Peterson's son, 2, dies; man charged

Running back intends to play Sunday; Vikes aren't so sure

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MINNEAPOLIS -- The Sioux Falls police department released news Friday afternoon that one of Adrian Peterson's children, a two-year-old son, has died from injuries sustained in alleged assault by the boyfriend of the child's mother.

Police are withholding the child's name at the request of the family. Police spokesman Sam Clemens said the state attorney's office is reviewing the case to consider additional charges against 27-year-old Joseph Patterson.

Patterson was charged with aggravated assault and aggravated battery of an infant. His bond was set at $750,000.

Adrian Peterson talked to the media at Winter Park, asking for privacy.

"I really appreciate all the support that I've been receiving from fans, the Vikings organization," the MVP running back said at a brief press conference inside the locker-room. "This is a private matter and I would ask you all to please just respect my privacy and not ask at all about the situation at hand. Thanks."

Peterson's father, Nelson, confirmed to the Minneapolis Star Tribune earlier Friday by phone the child is Adrian's son. Peterson said he planned to play Sunday against the Carolina Panthers at Mall of America Field.

"I will be playing Sunday," he said. "I'll be ready to roll, focused."

According to Sioux Falls police and Lincoln County prosecutor Tom Wollman, Joseph Patterson was charged with aggravated assault and aggravated battery of an infant. The alleged assault took place Wednesday evening.

Police responded to a 911 call at an apartment about a child who was choking. Officers found an unresponsive child and transported him to a hospital.

Doctors determined the child's injuries were consistent with abuse and not accidental. Patterson was arrested that evening. Police said the child's mother was not home at the time of the alleged assault.

Sioux Falls police declined to identify the parents.

Peterson rarely talks about his personal life in media interviews, but he's made public appearances with two of his children. He recently tweeted about his daughter, Adeja, who is 8. At training camp, Peterson's fiancée brought his son, Adrian Peterson Jr., who is 2, to visit his father after practice.

Peterson described his mindset returning to work on Friday.

"Football is something I will always fall back on," he said. "It gets me through tough times. Just being around the guys in here, that's what I need in my life, guys supporting me and just being able to go out and play this game I love. Things that I go through, I've said a thousand times, it helps me play this game to a different level. I'm able to kind of release a lot of my stress through this sport, so that's what I plan on doing."

Peterson has dealt with tragedy at different times in his life. At age 8, he witnessed his older brother being struck and killed by a drunk driver while riding his bike.

As a teenager, Peterson's father was sentenced to 10 years in prison for laundering drug money. Peterson's stepbrother was shot and killed in Houston the night before Peterson worked out at the NFL Combine.

"One thing I always bounce back to is that the good Lord never gives you more than you can bear, than you can handle," Peterson said Friday. "So I'm built tough."

Peterson's coaches and teammates tried to provide support Friday. Coach Leslie Frazier said Peterson had a "difficult day" and left open the possibility that the NFL's reigning MVP won't play Sunday.

"He has our prayers and support from this football team, from this organization as he's dealing with a personal matter," Frazier said. "We'll see how things go with him. We expect him to play, but this is a very personal situation that he's dealing with. We'll talk to him in the next 24 hours."

Fellow running back Toby Gerhart said Peterson's teammates have reached out to him in different ways.

"We consider each other family and brothers," Gerhart said. "When something like this happens, it's truly a testament of being a teammate and how tight this family is. It's a tough situation. We're there for him with whatever he needs and try and help his morale and be there for him."

-- Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 12, 2013 C10

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