(Reuters) - Running back Adrian Peterson had a happy reunion with his coach and Minnesota Vikings teammates as he reported for training on Tuesday after missing most of last season while banished by the NFL for beating his son.
“It feels good to be back in the building,” Peterson, 30, said in a news conference in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, following the team’s offseason training activities.
“I’ve learned a lot from my mistake and I‘m moving forward. I‘m focused on what’s in front of me and bettering myself as a person and professionally as a player.”
Peterson, reinstated from his ban by the NFL in April, skipped last week’s voluntary training activities amid questions about whether he would ever return to the team or try to force the Vikings to send him to another club.
But head coach Mike Zimmer last week made clear that the 2012 NFL Most Valuable Player and six-time Pro Bowl selection was “not going to play for anybody else,” telling reporters, “Adrian, he’s really got two choices. He can either play for us or he cannot play.”
Peterson, Minnesota’s all-time leading rusher with 10,190 yards, is due to be paid a $12.75 million salary this season by the Vikings, who said they had no intention of trading him.
“I love this kid, I really do,” Zimmer told the news conference, adding that Peterson was “important to me, to my program, my coaches and to the rest of our football team. The players were all hugging him today.”
Peterson played in only one game last season after being embroiled in the child-abuse case.
He pleaded no contest in November to a misdemeanor charge of reckless assault for disciplining his 4-year-old son by repeatedly striking him with a thin tree branch called a switch.
In 2011, Peterson signed a six-year, $96 million contract extension with the Vikings. He has three years left on the deal but there is no more guaranteed money in his contract.
Peterson said he did not address the team, but was greeted by smiles and hugs. “I haven’t been in the building for a long time but the love was there.”
Zimmer said it was a pleasure to see Peterson back on the field. “There’s really not a prettier sight than when he has the ball in his hands.”
Reporting by Steve Ginsburg in Washington; Additional reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Will Dunham/Frank Pingue