Chagrined NFL teams bow to pressure on domestic abuse cases

Wed Sep 17, 2014 6:49pm EDT
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By Eric Kelsey and Mary Milliken

(Reuters) - Two NFL teams succumbed to public pressure and suspended two players enmeshed in domestic abuse cases on Wednesday in the midst of intensifying criticism by corporate sponsors and politicians of America's top sports league.

Minnesota Vikings star running back Adrian Peterson and Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy were both placed on their team's "exempt list," putting them on paid leaves of absence while the cases against them are resolved.

In announcing their actions, officials of both the Vikings and the Panthers talked about the need "to get this right."

The two teams' decisions suggest a new tack by owners toward the domestic violence scandal engulfing the 32-team NFL and its commissioner, Roger Goodell.

A flurry of cases, most notably those of Peterson and Ray Rice, the former Baltimore Ravens star who has also been suspended indefinitely by the NFL, has raised questions about the league's integrity and Goodell's leadership.

On Wednesday the level of criticism ratcheted up, with the U.S. House of Representatives Democratic leader, Nancy Pelosi, speaking up, and moves by two big corporate sponsors - TD Ameritrade and Nike.

Zygi Wilf, who co-owns the Vikings with his brother, Mark, said that they had "made a mistake and we needed to get this right," after they had reactivated Peterson on Monday following his indictment last week on charges of beating his 4-year-old son with a branch.

For the Panthers, general manager Dave Gettleman said the team was disappointed in Hardy's behavior. "We have to get this right. He has to get this right," Gettleman said.   Continued...

Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson leaves the field after a season-ending loss to the Green Bay Packers in Green Bay, Wisconsin, in this file photo taken January 5, 2013.   REUTERS/Tom Lynn/Files