Jonathan Dwyer of the Arizona Cardinals was arrested in a domestic violence investigation Wednesday as the N.F.L. continued to find itself under siege for its handling of such cases.
Before Dwyer’s arrest, the Minnesota Vikings reversed course, placing Adrian Peterson, a star running back facing child abuse charges, on the exempt/commissioner’s permission list. The Carolina Panthers did the same with Greg Hardy, a defensive end appealing a domestic violence case.
The Phoenix police, in a statement, said detectives arrested Dwyer, a running back, in Tempe on charges of aggravated assault in a domestic violence case stemming from two separate episodes at his home in southeast Phoenix in late July.
Dwyer, who was deactivated by the Cardinals on Wednesday night, denied that any physical assaults took place, the police said. They said he was being booked at the Maricopa County Jail on a count of aggravated assault causing a fracture, a count of aggravated assault involving a minor, two counts of criminal damage and a count of preventing the use of a phone in an emergency.
The victims were said to be a 27-year-old woman and an 18-month-old child. The police said the woman left the state with the child after the episodes. Police then received the complaint in the case on Sept. 11.
The Cardinals said they learned of the allegations Wednesday when notified by the police. “We will continue to closely monitor this as it develops and evaluate additional information as it becomes available,” the team’s statement said.
An N.F.L. spokesman said Dwyer’s case would be reviewed under the N.F.L.’s personal conduct policy.
Earlier Wednesday, mounting pressure from sponsors and the public forced the Vikings to bar Peterson from practices and games while he deals with his arrest in Texas on charges that he beat his 4-year-old son.
The decision, announced in an email at 12:47 a.m. Central time, came 38 hours after the Vikings said Peterson would rejoin the team. His reinstatement drew criticism from fans, women’s groups and sponsors, who said the team was insensitive to domestic violence and child abuse.
“We made a mistake, and we needed to get this right,” Zygi Wilf, a Vikings co-owner, said at a news conference Wednesday. “It’s important to listen to our fans, the community and our sponsors.”
After consulting with Peterson, the N.F.L. and Peterson’s agent, Peterson was placed on the exempt/commissioner’s permission list, where he will remain until his legal situation is resolved. Peterson will receive his full $11.75 million base salary but cannot take part in team activities.
Wilf’s brother Mark, a co-owner and the team president, denied that the league pressured the Vikings to make the move.
“This is our decision 100 percent,” he said. “We were aiming to get it right, and we feel we got it right.”
Nike said Wednesday it had suspended its contract with Peterson and made his jerseys unavailable online.
“Nike in no way condones child abuse or domestic violence of any kind and has shared our concerns with the N.F.L.,” the company said in a statement.
The Panthers’ Hardy agreed to go on the same exempt list Wednesday as he appeals his domestic violence conviction. He was found guilty in July of assaulting and threatening to kill his girlfriend. His trial is scheduled to begin Nov. 17. Hardy played in Week 1, was deactivated last Sunday and had continued to practice with the team. He will also receive his full $13.12 million base salary.
“It’s been handled as well as we could,” Panthers Coach Ron Rivera said at a news conference Wednesday.
Peterson is accused of injuring his son while disciplining him with a tree branch, commonly known as a switch, last May in Spring, Tex. Peterson turned himself in to Montgomery County authorities early Saturday morning and was inactive Sunday for Minnesota’s 30-7 loss to New England. Free on $15,000 bail, he is scheduled to make his first court appearance Oct. 8.
In response to Peterson’s reinstatement Monday, fans who ran a Vikings online message board shut it down. And the Radisson hotel chain, based in the Minneapolis suburb of Minnetonka, suspended its Vikings sponsorship. Marilyn Carlson Nelson, the former chairman of Carlson Inc., which owns Radisson, was a co-chairwoman of the bid committee that landed the 2018 Super Bowl for Minneapolis.
The backlash accelerated Tuesday. Gov. Mark Dayton, a Democrat who helped the Vikings receive public financing for their new stadium, and Senator Al Franken, also a Democrat, criticized the decision. Dayton called Peterson’s actions “a public embarrassment” and demanded the team suspend him.
Fran Tarkenton, a Hall of Fame quarterback who led the Vikings to three Super Bowls, told Fox News that he was embarrassed by the team’s original decision to let Peterson play.
Castrol Motor Oil terminated a sponsorship contract with Peterson. A spokesman for U.S. Bank, whose president, Richard Davis, a co-chairman of the Super Bowl bid committee with Carlson Nelson, said the company was monitoring the situation closely. An appearance by Vikings players at a Minneapolis orphanage was canceled.
Mark Wilf declined to address whether the team underestimated the backlash from the decision to reinstate Peterson. “I don’t want to Monday morning quarterback what it was,” he said.
A Radisson spokesman, Benjamin Gardeen, said in an email Wednesday that the company’s sponsorship remained suspended. On Monday, the Radisson logo appeared on a banner behind Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman as he discussed Peterson’s reinstatement. A different banner at Wednesday’s news conference had no such logos.
Vikings cornerback Captain Munnerlyn, one of the few players willing to comment Wednesday, said the club’s reversal surprised him. Munnerlyn said Peterson did nothing wrong, and his own mother disciplined him the same way.
“I don’t think it’s fair at all,” Munnerlyn said. “I think he should be able to play. He hasn’t been convicted of anything. All these allegations, or this and that, pictures out, but he hasn’t been convicted of nothing.”
The Vikings’ handling of the situation inflamed a national debate about domestic violence in the N.F.L. Last week, a graphic video showing Ray Rice knocking out his then-fiancée led Commissioner Roger Goodell to indefinitely suspend the former Baltimore Ravens running back.
Late Tuesday, Rice appealed that penalty, arguing that he should not have been suspended twice for the same episode. In July, Goodell said Rice would have to sit out the first two games of the regular season.
Source: NY Times