Vikings pull Peterson after blowback from advertisers

Vikings owner Zygi Wilf hopes keeping Adrian Peterson off the Mercedes- Benz Superdome field Sunday will help the team begin the process of correcting what it calls "a mistake."

The Vikings have benched Peterson, who faces indictment for using a wooden switch to spank his 4-year old son.

The decision came just hours after several sponsors began expressing concerns about Peterson, with some even pulling lucrative ad deals.

Tulane's Gabe Feldman is one of the leading local experts on sports law, and he predicted it would happen.

"If this affects the NFL's bottom line, they know they have to take action," said Feldman, who said the NFL might be pressured financially to keep Peterson out of the lineup.

Companies, like McDonald's, PepsiCo, Anheuser Busch, and Radisson hotels pump millions of dollars into the NFL, and once they began pulling sponsorships - or threatening to do so - the star running back was once again pulled from the lineup, with pay.

"It's important to always listen to the fans, the community, and our sponsors," said Wilf.

Vikings' officials said the decision was not based solely on sponsor pressure. Peterson had been suspended last week after being indicted for child abuse, then re-instated Monday. His   being pulled again Wednesday was a complete about-face.

"In many ways, this bad behavior could interfere with the corporate culture or moral code of this company," said Elyria Kemp, PhD, a UNO  marketing professor.

She said the NFL is one of sports' premium brands. Image is everything, and buy-in isn't cheap.

"They want him on the field, but they did it mainly because these advertisers were going to pull out," said Bernard Barnett, a football fan from New Orleans.

The sponsorships are huge. Budweiser by itself means more than $1 billion to the NFL, and when money like that talks, corporations listen.

"The children of today are for tomorrow. If you abuse them today, they might not have a future," said football fan Sharon Schurr.

Radisson was the first to pull out after its logo appeared behind Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman when he announced Monday that Peterson would play.

"We feel very strongly that this is the court's decision to make," Spielman said at the time.

But then Nike said it was pulling Peterson jerseys from the shelves, and other sponsors like Castrol oil and Mylan pharmaceuticals began to distance themselves.

"Companies will certainly react to negative occurrences, and they are concerned that protests might be directed at them," said Kemp.

Those companies may be more concerned than ever about female consumers, who may be more sensitive to domestic violence issues.

Kemp added, "Research shows that 35 to 40 percent of women comprise sports audiences."

It remains to be seen what direction the NFL's new advisors on domestic violence move.

The Vikings say that Peterson must stay away "until the legal proceedings are resolved."

Also, the Carolina Panthers have now pulled defensive end Greg Hardy from it's active roster. He has been convicted of domestic abuse, and like Peterson, will continue to be paid until all his legal issues are settled.

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