Vikings COO says he would support Peterson’s return
The Vikings’ promotion of Kevin Warren to chief operating officer quickly led to speculation on the blogosphere that Warren’s increased power could prevent suspended running back Adrian Peterson from returning to the team.
The Vikings' promotion of Kevin Warren to chief operating officer quickly led to speculation on the blogosphere that Warren's increased power could prevent suspended running back Adrian Peterson from returning to the team.
Yes, even after Vikings owner and president Mark Wilf made a resounding statement Wednesday that ownership would "love to have him back" upon his reinstatement.
Why the speculation? Well, ESPN reported back in November that Warren, then the team's vice president of legal affairs, was not in favor of Peterson's return. That report even went as far to say that Warren and the NFL were conspiring to keep Peterson sidelined for the rest of the season.
But on a conference call with select Twin Cities media on Thursday, Warren dispelled that notion with a two-plus-minute answer to a question about where he stands on the Peterson situation.
"I think that our organization and individuals in our organization from Zygi Wilf to Mark Wilf to [Mike] Zimmer to 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," he said. "And I feel the exact same way.
"I've had an opportunity to work with the Vikings for 10 years and I'm getting ready to start my 11th season. Adrian has spent his entire career here and he has not only been an absolutely phenomenal football player and a joy to watch — I've been fortunate to watch every single game, both preseason and regular season, that he's played in a Vikings uniform — [but] also he's been a phenomenal individual in our community. He's done so many good things that the public and the media have heard about and then there are a lot of other things that he does on a very quiet and personal basis.
"So for 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 and I would welcome him back with open arms. And as I said, I don't think he ever left. He's still a member of our team. So a lot of things that have been said, it's probably not appropriate to even comment and respond to things that have been said or whatever. But I can tell you that my feelings about Adrian are very positive. They've been positive every day that he's been here with the Vikings. I look forward to him having the opportunity to play again and as Mark Wilf said [Wednesday], once he gets everything resolved and is in a position to play, he's an absolutely incredible football player and he's a great community ambassador and he's been great for the game of football. 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 many years down the road.
"I hope that sets it straight how I feel about Adrian Peterson."
Asked specifically if he was denying the November report from ESPN, Warren didn't explicitly shoot it down. But he made it clear that he and the rest of the organization supports Peterson's return.
"Last year was a complicated year at all levels or various levels," Warren said. "But again, I just want to make it very clear: Once Adrian gets his items resolved with the NFL and is free to play again and rejoin our franchise, I think it's good for Adrian, it would be good for us, it would be good all the Vikings fans, it would be good for our community and it would be good for the NFL."
Of course, there is the matter of Peterson's contract, which may end up being the final hurdle — and it would be a tall one to clear — if Peterson is to resume his career with the Vikings. The 29-year-old is schedule to make $12.75 million in base salary with a salary cap hit of $15.4 million.
Asked if it was realistic to expect Peterson to play on his current deal, Warren declined comment.
"I respect that question," he said. "But that is definitely a question that Rick Spielman and Rob Brzezinski and Coach Zimmer are better suited to answer when it comes down to the pure football decisions and the salary cap questions."
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