NFL Nation: Rusty Hardin

Adrian Peterson resolves legal issue

November, 13, 2012
11/13/12
3:28
PM ET

From the start, Adrian Peterson's run-in with Houston police last summer seemed out of character. The Minnesota Vikings' tailback has flaws like anyone else, but reports that he pushed a police offer and later assumed a "violent stance" at a nightclub were a departure from Peterson's life history.

It appears that a Houston court has agreed. The charge will be dropped, Peterson told ESPN's Josina Anderson. Attorney Rusty Hardin told the St. Paul Pioneer Press that Peterson testified Tuesday and a grand jury found no probable cause for arrest. The charges will officially be dropped Wednesday.

That should mean Peterson will escape NFL punishment as well. The league reserves the right to issue discipline regardless of legal developments, but it's unclear what the league would punish Peterson for in this instance.
Houston attorney Rusty Hardin made the media rounds Tuesday on behalf of Minnesota Vikings tailback Adrian Peterson, who was arrested last Saturday and charged with misdemeanor resisting arrest at a Houston nightclub. Most of what I heard was an expansion of Hardin's initial claim that Peterson was a victim rather than an aggressor in the incident.

There was one new development to the story. Hardin told NFL Live that Peterson visited a doctor Tuesday to have bruises over his eye examined. During an interview with KFAN-100.3 in the Twin Cities, Hardin said Peterson got "punched in the face by fists several times" in the melee. He also had both shoulders pulled, according to Hardin, but the injuries are considered minor.

"We're talking about bruises, not anything that's going to affect his ability to play or anything like that," Hardin said. "… Nobody was seriously long-term hurt, but there's no question that he was the one that got hit and not the police officer."

Peterson has his first court hearing Friday in Houston.
As we've been discussing for much of the day, Minnesota Vikings tailback Adrian Peterson is prepared to mount a vigorous defense of a Class A misdemeanor he received after a nightclub incident Saturday morning in Houston.

His newly-hired attorney, Rusty Hardin, issued an aggressive statement Monday afternoon that insists Peterson did not shove an off-duty police officer, as charged by Houston police, and said he was the "victim, not the aggressor." Here is the full statement, courtesy ESPN's Josina Anderson:
Adrian Peterson did not resist arrest this past Saturday morning and any suggestion that he pushed, struck or shoved a Houston Police Officer is a total fabrication. He, in fact, was struck at least twice in the face for absolutely no legitimate reason, and when all the evidence is impartially reviewed, it will clearly show Adrian was the victim, not the aggressor.

We have been investigating what happened since Saturday afternoon, and it is absolutely clear to me that the charges should not have been filed, and the Bayou Club owes Adrian an apology for having put out a totally false version of what happened. Adrian Peterson does not act the way he has been described in the initial reports, and he did not act that way Saturday morning. He was only in that club for 30 to 40 minutes, was never objectionable to other patrons, and never physically resisted any police officer.

Adrian is extremely upset about these false allegations. These charges are totally at odds with the way he has conducted himself throughout his career, and he asks that his fans and the public at large reserve judgment until they hear all the facts. Adrian looks forward to his day in court.
Already, evidence is stacking up to suggest that Adrian Peterson isn't looking to make his arrest over the weekend go away quickly and quietly. Peterson has hired high-profile attorney Rusty Hardin, and his father has now offered the first official glimpse into his version of the events of early Saturday morning at a Houston nightclub.

Peterson
Peterson
In an interview with the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Nelson Peterson said his son did not push an off-duty police officer at bar closing time, as alleged by the Houston police department. The officer was "very disrespectful" to Adrian Peterson, according to his father, and used "vulgar language." Finally, Nelson Peterson said his son suffered a black eye after falling during the scuffle.

Nelson Peterson did not witness the incident, but speaks to his son regularly.

As we discussed Monday, Peterson could be highly motivated to wipe his slate completely clean of this incident, even if it is only a misdemeanor under Texas law. He has a pristine off-the-field reputation as one of the NFL's most marketable athletes, but he also has a very personal reason for doing so as well.

Nelson Peterson was sentenced to 10 years in prison when Adrian was 13.

"He knows that his actions affect him and his kids also," said Nelson Peterson. He added: "Adrian is kind of frustrated because he's the kind of guy who's tried to do the right things in society and he cares about being a high-character guy. He has a 9-year-old daughter, so he doesn't want her hearing in the news about how he's being perceived."

Stand back. This thing is just getting started.

I've seen some interesting reactions already to news that Minnesota Vikings tailback Adrian Peterson hired high-profile attorney Rusty Hardin following his arrest this weekend in Houston.

Peterson was charged with resisting arrest at a Houston-area nightclub, a Class A misdemeanor in Texas. Those who are inclined to consider the incident minor are wondering why Peterson would feel compelled to bring in such a heavy hitter for an adjudication that should be relatively routine.

Those who suspect there is more to the story, on the other hand, feel vindicated by the addition of the attorney who successfully defended former major league baseball pitcher Roger Clemens during two federal trials. With Hardin's help, Clemens avoided conviction on perjury charges related to denials of performance-enhancing drug use.

Unless Houston prosecutors tack on some additional charges, Peterson wouldn't seem in line for much in the way of punishment either from the legal system or the NFL. So what is Hardin doing here?

As we discussed over the weekend, Peterson has a glistening legal record. He's one of the NFL's best and most marketable players, and the ensuing publicity of any arrest is likely to outweigh the severity of the crime.

Peterson vowed Sunday that "the truth will surface." My guess is that Hardin will provide expert and elite damage control as part of a coordinated effort to protect Peterson's reputation. Unless otherwise informed, I'll classify Hardin's arrival as Peterson simply using every resource available to him.

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