No chance Peterson arrest story dies quick death

  • Updated: July 10, 2012 - 6:47 AM

While the alleged offense was relatively minor, the running back's high profile -- and his high-profile attorney -- ensure a media frenzy.

If you need a bit of hullabaloo to spice up your week, we suggest investing in the ongoing Adrian Peterson mess, a legal melodrama picking up steam the way the Vikings' running back so often does in the open field.

To recap: Following a Saturday morning altercation with security at a Houston nightclub, Peterson was taken into custody and charged with resisting arrest. Police allege the Vikings star was uncooperative and combative when asked to leave at closing time.

Which led to the skirmish and the arrest.

Peterson spent a few hours in jail, was released on $1,000 bond and faces a preliminary hearing Friday for a misdemeanor charge that would most likely be punished with a minor fine.

Even with all the allegations taken at face value, on the NFL misdeed scale, this sure seems moderate. There was no white Ford Bronco chase. No Love Boat misadventures either.

But this is a high-profile star in a high-profile league in an era where even the smallest news nuggets get run through the "High-Profile" conversion machine. So there's little chance this story fades quickly.

Plus on Monday, high-profile Houston attorney Rusty Hardin jumped into the fray, trumpeting Peterson's version of the events and defending his new client's character.

Hardin, who was last seen representing Roger Clemens in his congressional perjury trial, said he's upset with how police handled the situation with Peterson and bothered by the way an initial TMZ report painted the Vikings' back as belligerent and aggressive. And Hardin isn't buying the accusation, made to TMZ by the nightclub's general manager, that Peterson was arrested only after he shoved an off-duty policeman.

"Any suggestion that [Adrian] pushed, struck or shoved a Houston police officer is a total fabrication," Hardin said in a statement. "He, in fact, was struck at least twice in the face for absolutely no legitimate reason."

In addition, Hardin said that when the evidence is fully compiled and reviewed, it will show "Adrian was the victim, not the aggressor."

On Monday morning, Peterson's mug shot surfaced, distributed by the Houston Police Department and showing him with a strange grin.

But how were we to interpret that? As a sarcastic smirk, the Vikings star perhaps mocking the authorities? As confidence that, when the dust settles on this dust-up, Peterson's name will be cleared?

Or was it simply Peterson's disbelief that a Friday night out with family and friends took such an unusual turn?

Hardin contends Peterson was only at the club for 30-40 minutes before closing time, an assertion that could debunk the club's claim that the running back was acting rudely all night.

"There will be no patron who will say that he was being obnoxious or doing anything wrong," Hardin said in a phone interview with the Star Tribune. "And there aren't going to be any witnesses, other than one or two of the officers, that claim he even touched an officer. But TMZ [and the nightclub general manager] made it sound like he was hell on water."

The wheels for the Hardin-Peterson union were set in motion while the Vikings' star was still in jail, a clear indication that Peterson badly wants the stains to his reputation removed and his rap sheet wiped clean.

Hardin said the legal hope is that the district attorney's office investigates, talks to witnesses, identifies the Houston Police Department's claims as embellished and/or bogus and drops the charges. But even that scenario could have complications, given Peterson's celebrity status and the possibility that prosecutors could push the issue to avoid the perception they're cutting a star a break.

Realistically, the resolution could be a ways off. And, inevitably, the spotlight will shine brightly on the case as long as it lasts.

Little of this will impact the Vikings as a team. But when training camp opens in Mankato in two weeks, Peterson's legal issues will be a hot story line, an annoyance the running back and the organization would rather be without.

Dan Wiederer • dan.wiederer@startribune.com

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