The Minnesota Vikings would be happy to bring back Adrian Peterson, based on recent comments made by several top members of the organization, from team president Mark Wilf down to Coach Mike Zimmer.
But the feeling might not be 100% mutual, based on comments that the still-suspended Peterson made to ESPN on Thursday night.
FOR THE RECORD
March 24, 9:29 a.m.: An earlier version of this post incorectly stated that Peterson has one year left on his contract with the Vikings. He has three years remaining.
"I'm still uneasy, to be honest with you," Peterson said. "I'm still uneasy about a lot of things that took place within the organization. Of course those guys ultimately supported me, and I'm grateful for that. But ultimately, with me being able to be on the inside and see how cards were dealt, how things were worded, this, that and the other, it's about protecting your brand, your organization, what you have built. In the [grand] scheme of things, not one person counts over that. I get that."
Peterson spent most of last season on the commissioner's exempt list, essentially paid leave, after being indicted by a grand jury in Texas on a felony charge of injury to a child. He pleaded no contest to a reduced charge of misdemeanor reckless assault on Nov. 4, avoiding jail time in exchange for probation, a $4,000 fine and 80 hours of community service.
But NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell still suspended him until at least April 15 for violating the league’s personal conduct policy. The NFL Players Assn. has sued to get the suspension lifted immediately, with Peterson appearing in federal court in Minneapolis earlier this month.
Peterson is under contract with the Vikings for the next three seasons, but the 2012 league MVP told ESPN he believes the team will leave it up to him whether he resumes his career in Minnesota or elsewhere.
And Peterson said he's just not sure what that decision will be at this point.
"It's not just about me," Peterson said. "I have a wife who was able to sit back and see how people in Minnesota said this and said that, how media in Minnesota took the head of the situation with my child, and were digging into things that weren't even relevant. ... That impacted me, but most importantly, it impacted the people around me -- my family, my kids. This came from the state I love so much, that I wish to bring a championship to? This is how they treat me when I'm down and out? You kick me?
"My wife [and I], we've had several conversations about me returning to Minnesota, what the best options are. If I left it up to her, I'd be somewhere else today, and that's with her weighing everything. It's a lot for me to weigh; she understands that. But there are some things that I'm still uneasy about."
But he also said: "I love Minnesota. There are people that have had my back, and supported me. Last year, with the things that took place, a lot of fans that supported me through everything.
"For the fans, I would definitely love to come back, but then again, it's a business, when it comes down to business, you can't get caught up in the loyalty to fans or to a team or anything like that."