EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, who was indicted by a grand jury on charges of reckless or negligent injury to a child on Friday, apologized in a statement on Monday for "the hurt I have brought to my child" after disciplining him earlier this year. He also said he will testify in court that he did not intend to harm his son, and is, "without a doubt, not a child abuser."
Peterson said he met with two different police agencies and a grand jury before his indictment as well as a psychologist to discuss "alternative ways of disciplining a child that may be more appropriate."
In the statement, which was released through Peterson's agency, the running back said he disciplined his child in the same way his parents disciplined him and credited that discipline with keeping him out of trouble as a child.
"I have learned a lot and have had to reevaluate how I discipline my son going forward," Peterson said in the statement. "But deep in my heart I have always believed I could have been one of those kids that was lost in the streets without the discipline instilled in me by my parents and other relatives. I have always believed that the way my parents disciplined me has a great deal to do with the success I have enjoyed as a man. I love my son and I will continue to become a better parent and learn from any mistakes I ever make.
"I am not a perfect son. I am not a perfect husband. I am not a perfect parent, but I am, without a doubt, not a child abuser. I am someone that disciplined his child and did not intend to cause him any injury. No one can understand the hurt that I feel for my son and for the harm I caused him. My goal is always to teach my son right from wrong and that's what I tried to do that day."
Peterson's family and friends confirmed to USA Today Sports on Monday that he grew up in a household where his father, Nelson Peterson, used whippings as disciplinary measures.
A childhood friend, David Cummings, as well as two uncles and a stepmother, told the newspaper about one instance where Nelson Peterson used his belt to whip Adrian for being disruptive in school in front of more than 20 students after a middle school football practice.
"We still talk about it to this day," Cummings told the paper. "My dad was tough, but his dad was real tough."
Said Greg Peterson of his nephew: "When Adrian showed out or was bad, he got a whupping."
Fullback Jerome Felton said he "grew up in the South, so I probably got it a little worse" than how Peterson disciplined his son, reportedly whipping the boy with a switch and causing deep cuts on his legs.
"I am not a perfect son. I am not a perfect husband. I am not a perfect parent, but I am, without a doubt, not a child abuser."Adrian Peterson
"I guess people have different opinions, and you'll have to judge for yourself," Felton said. "I feel like I'm a better person for it. I had direction under my family. My mother cared about me a lot, and I know people that didn't have parents that cared, didn't discipline them and turned out a lot different than I did. It's a personal judgment, and some people like it. Some people don't."
The Vikings deactivated Peterson for Sunday's game against the New England Patriots but announced in a statement on Monday that Peterson will play on Sunday against the New Orleans Saints, adding they will let the legal process play out before deciding on further action. The NFL's only comment came on Saturday, when spokesman Brian McCarthy said the league will review Peterson's case "under the NFL's personal conduct policy."
Vikings general manager Rick Spielman said the decision to reinstate Peterson was made by the Vikings and was "not a decision made by the NFL" and maintained that the decision to play him isn't because of his status on the team. He said the Vikings have had multiple conversations with Peterson's attorney, Rusty Hardin, and met with Peterson personally.
Peterson has faced heavy criticism for his use of a switch to discipline his son, but the running back said in his statement that he "never imagined being in a position where the world is judging my parenting skills or calling me a child abuser because of the discipline I administered to my son."
Later, he said, "I am someone that disciplined his child and did not intend to cause him any injury. No one can understand the hurt that I feel for my son and for the harm I caused him. My goal is always to teach my son right from wrong and that's what I tried to do that day.
"I accept the fact that people feel very strongly about this issue and what they think about my conduct. Regardless of what others think, however, I love my son very much and I will continue to try to become a better father and person."
Peterson also tweeted the statement.
- Adrian Peterson (@AdrianPeterson) September 15, 2014
Peterson is scheduled to enter a plea at an Oct. 8 hearing in Conroe, Texas, after his indictment for reckless or negligent injury to a child. Peterson faces up to two years in prison and a $10,000 fine if found guilty.
Spielman called the photos of the marks on Peterson's son "disturbing," but "whether he went too far is the court's decision to make."
"Based on the information we have right now, and what we know about Adrian, we believe he deserves to play during this process," Spielman said.
Coach Mike Zimmer said that while he was involved in all the conference calls regarding Peterson's status, "it was an ownership decision" to reinstate the running back.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.