Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton: Adrian Peterson's Actions 'Are an Embarassment'

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton: Adrian Peterson's Actions 'Are an Embarassment'
Adrian Peterson
Tom Dahlin/Getty

09/16/2014 AT 06:15 PM EDT

For as long as he's been in the NFL, Adrian Peterson has been one of the most popular and marketable stars in the league, an approachable superstar with the kind of inspirational comeback story that made him an endorser's dream.

Now that he is facing a felony charge of child abuse for spanking his 4-year-old son with a wooden switch, the Minnesota Vikings running back is facing criticism like he never has before. In the wake of the Vikings' decision to allow Peterson to play while the legal process plays out in Texas, at least one team sponsor has suspended its relationship with the team, the governor has issued a public rebuke, and stores are pulling Peterson merchandise from their shelves.

"It is an awful situation," Gov. Mark Dayton said Tuesday. "Yes, Mr. Peterson is entitled to due process and should be 'innocent until proven guilty.' However, he is a public figure, and his actions, as described, are a public embarrassment to the Vikings organization and the State of Minnesota. Whipping a child to the extent of visible wounds, as has been alleged, should not be tolerated in our state. Therefore, I believe the team should suspend Mr. Peterson, until the accusations of child abuse have been resolved by the criminal justice system."

Vikings owners Zygi and Mark Wilf deactivated Peterson for the 30-7 loss to the New England Patriots on Sunday while they tried to gather more information about the case. After reviewing files, speaking to Peterson, his attorney and authorities, the Wilfs decided to reinstate Peterson, and he plans to play this weekend at New Orleans.

Radisson Hotels suspended its local sponsorship deal with the Vikings a short time later; the chain's logo was on the backdrop behind general manager Rick Spielman when he made the controversial announcement Monday to bring back Peterson.

Nike stores at the Mall of America in Bloomington and at an outlet mall in Albertville pulled Peterson merchandise. Mylan Inc. said it was no longer working with Peterson to promote its EpiPen, used to treat allergic reactions. The running back had participated in several promotions to raise awareness for anaphylaxis, which he has dealt with in the past.

Other sponsors are still standing behind the Vikings and Peterson, including Verizon Wireless.

"We are supportive of the NFL and, at this point, we are satisfied with our sponsorship of the Minnesota Vikings," Verizon said in a statement to The Associated Press. "In fact, for the past several years we have collaborated with the Vikings on several programs to raise awareness of the impact of domestic violence, an issue Verizon has had a long-standing commitment to."

Peterson has not spoken to reporters since his arrest, but he did issue a statement through his agency on Monday that in part addressed the negative attention that his situation has brought to the team.

"I never wanted to be a distraction to the Vikings organization, the Minnesota community or to my teammates," Peterson said.

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