Adrian Peterson stopped only briefly to address reporters when leaving a Houston courtroom Friday morning. But in wrapping up his remarks, the Vikings running back offered a four-word statement that summarizes his defense.
"I didn't touch anyone," he said.
Peterson was appearing in court for an arraignment following his arrest last weekend inside a Houston nightclub where, police allege, he pushed an off-duty officer and later resisted arrest. Now Peterson's case has been reset for Aug. 6.
Still, Friday provided the Vikings star an opportunity to deliver his first public comments about last weekend's skirmish. Police maintain Peterson was confrontational with officers when asked to leave the club at closing time. Following a scuffle with multiple officers, Peterson was detained for resisting arrest and spent several hours in jail. He was released on a $1,000 bond and continues to assert his innocence.
"I didn't push, shove, touch anything to anyone that night, especially an officer," Peterson told reporters Friday, flanked by his attorney Rusty Hardin. "I definitely don't have a problem with the Houston P.D. This involves two individual officers that I have an issue with. Once everything is settled and [comes] to a head, the truth will come out."
Since Monday, Hardin has been on a media blitzkrieg to advance his client's version of the events. Hardin contends at least four witnesses not affiliated with either Peterson or the Houston police say the Vikings running back was not causing trouble and never shoved any of the officers.
Hardin also asserts Peterson was "jumped" by overaggressive officers and punched at least twice in the head. Peterson's face was swollen after the fracas and his shoulders wrenched, according to Hardin.
Now the running back is fighting to quell the negative publicity.
"This is about Adrian's reputation," Hardin said. "He's fighting to overcome that initial perception that he was in the wrong."
As the case proceeds, Hardin is asking prosecutors to take a hard look at why officers wanted to arrest Peterson in the first place. The Vikings' star is not charged with anything beyond resisting arrest, a misdemeanor. Yet to deliver a case with any weight, Hardin contends authorities will have to show legitimate grounds existed for trying to arrest Peterson to begin with. And Hardin has been adamant that any allegation that Peterson initiated the scuffle with police is false.
"Nine-hundred-ninety-nine times out of 1,000, police officers do not arrest somebody in that situation just because they were having a verbal dispute," Hardin said. "But in Adrian's case, we've talked to several witnesses who said the officer kept saying things to him two or three times before Adrian ever responded. And when Adrian did respond [verbally] he was walking out. ... There were a lot of people there who thought the police overreacted."
Hardin hopes prosecutors will eventually drop the charges but has acknowledged that best-case scenario could still take several weeks to play out. In the worst-case scenario, Peterson's next court appearance three weeks from now could result in a trial being set.
The Vikings are due to report to training camp on July 26.
In the meantime, Peterson continues dealing with fallout from an unfortunate off-the-field incident that Hardin believes has already become far too big a deal.
"I'm absolutely convinced that if he had been John Q. Citizen, he wouldn't have been charged," Hardin said. "I think what happened here is one of the officers hit him two or three times. There's nobody that can offer any justification for that. And I think, as a result, they felt it would help them to have Adrian charged."