The NFL announced on Monday that Vikings Pro Bowl fullback Jerome Felton has been suspended for three games without pay for violating the league's substance abuse policy.
The suspension was related to a DUI that Felton was charged with in 2012, an NFL source confirmed. The report when Felton was charged on June 2, 2012, indicated that he had a DWI conviction within the past 10 years, making this his second offense.
Update: The Vikings also issued this statement on the status of standout defensive tackle Kevin Williams' injured right knee. “Kevin Williams suffered a hyperextension injury to his right knee in last night’s football game. An MRI exam today revealed a significant bone contusion as well as a posterior capsular strain. Kevin was fortunate in that there was no injury to any of his ligaments.” – Head Coach Leslie Frazier
That diagnosis appears to mean that Williams could miss some time while recovering, but that surgery will not be necessary.
As for Felton, he pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of careless driving the June 2, 2012 case, but the league suspended him anyway. Felton appealed the suspension and lost, the source confirmed.
The league announced that Felton will be eligible to return to the team on Monday, Sept. 23, the day after the team's Cleveland game. Felton's suspension begins Saturday, and will include road games at Detroit and Chicago.
The Vikings issued this statement from General Manager Rick Spielman: “We respect the league’s decision and Jerome understands it. Jerome is focused on returning to the playing field in week four vs. Pittsburgh.”
Felton has missed part of the preseason after undergoing an emergency appendectomy on Aug. 14.
Felton's suspension will cost him $150,000 of his $850,000 base salary this season. He signed a three-year, $7.5 million contract during the offseason after making the Pro Bowl as the lead blocker for Adrian Peterson, who rushed for 2,097 yards.
The Vikings did not have access today, a travel day after Sunday night's 34-14 preseason loss in San Francisco.
Felton's DUI charge was detailed in this Star Tribune story last month:
Ten weeks after signing with the Vikings, he spent a Friday night drinking at the Towne Place Suites in Eden Prairie, got an urge for a chicken sandwich and made a 0.92-mile drive to McDonald’s. An employee thought Felton was falling asleep behind the wheel and called police. Felton was arrested and cited for two misdemeanor counts of driving while impaired.
“That could have easily been the end of my career,” he says. “Definitely.”
The next morning Felton called his family in tears. Shaken, he also explained his side to the Vikings’ front office. He prayed for a second chance but knew the organization might see his arrest as an unwanted distraction from an unproven journeyman and cut him loose.
Frazier made his disappointment known in front of the entire team.
“But,” he says, “I saw something in Jerome that convinced me he made a mistake and would learn from it. … If we had let him go after that incident, I would have been surprised if he would have gotten picked up.”