Minnesota Vikings star Adrian Peterson's future with the team is uncertain after an indictment Friday on a child abuse charge involving his 4-year-old son.
Peterson did not play Sunday in a 30-7 Vikings loss to the New England Patriots, and team's executive vice president and general manager Rick Spielman said Sunday that "all options are on the table" as the Vikings decide how to handle the allegations, ESPN reports.
A league source told ESPN that an announcement on Peterson's future with the team could come as early as Monday.
NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reports that a Vikings source has said Peterson's absence could extend beyond this week, partly depending on whether the team uncovers more about the charge against Peterson. That report also says Spielman told NFL Media's Andrea Kremer that the team is taking its approach "literally one hour at a time," adding that the team does not yet know if more pictures or videos will surface.
In the meantime, many Vikings fans on Sunday said they were not rushing to judgment in the case. A number of fans wore their No. 28 Peterson jerseys to the home game at TCF Bank Field. “He’s innocent until proven guilty in my eyes,” one fan told the Star Tribune.
"I don't think he was trying to abuse his child," Nick Novak, 29, of Roseville, told the Associated Press. "I think he was trying to punish the child for wrongdoing. He did cross a line though."
Fans who talked to reporters Sunday seemed to differ in their opinions on whether Peterson should have been deactivated from play before the legal process plays out.
If allegations that Peterson hit his son with a tree branch "switch" prove true, "I don't think he should play, ever again," fan Caitlin Callahan told the Pioneer Press. "I'm all for AP, but I have no tolerance for that."
National sports figures and pundits are weighing in, too. Former Vikings star Cris Carter made an emotional plea against child abuse on ESPN's "Sunday NFL Countdown." He praised the Vikings for deactivating Peterson for Sunday's game.
"You can't beat a kid to make him do what you want to do," Carter said.
Outspoken NBA star and commentator Charles Barkley defended Peterson, noting that hitting children with switches is common in the South. "Whipping — we do that all the time. Every black parent in the south is going to be in jail under those circumstances," Barkley said on CBS.
Longtime sports columnist Mike Lupica writes that Peterson's difficult childhood has been well-documented. "All of it may inform the man the child became, but does not excuse the kind of behavior, against his own child, for which he now stands accused, even as his lawyer tells us all what a loving father Peterson is."
Peterson's teammates said they were trying to focus on playing, even if that means playing without their star running back.
"We've got to get the mindset that (No.) 28 probably ain't going to be here with us," wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson told ESPN, "so we have to come in and do what we do best."
Many NFL fans say the sport's troubles disappear for them when Sunday arrives and it is time for games, the New York Times reports.
“The game is the game,” one fan told the newspaper. “That’s what it’s about. It’s the game that we’re playing today.”
But CNN reports that in the wake of numerous reports of domestic violence by players, other fans fans are starting to boycott the hugely popular – and hugely profitable – NFL.
Domestic violence charges are among some of the criminal charges made against at least 84 NFL players since 2000, according to a USA Today database.