Spielman: Off-the-field incidents 'unacceptable'

Erin Henderson has a drunken-driving arrest, and the GM vowed to help prevent problems.

 

Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman issued a statement Wednesday that called three player arrests in the past three weeks “unacceptable and disappointing,” and he vowed that the organization would take a “methodical look” at how to prevent off-the-field problems.

Spielman’s rebuke came after news surfaced that linebacker Erin Henderson was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving and possession of a controlled substance in Eden Prairie on Nov. 19.

Henderson filed a petition in Hennepin County District Court challenging the revocation of his driver’s license because of the drunken-driving arrest.

On Wednesday, former Vikings cornerback A.J. Jefferson was charged with one count of felony domestic assault by strangulation in connection with an attack on his girlfriend Monday at their Eden Prairie home. The Vikings had released him shortly after his arrest.

And on Nov. 9, wide receiver Jerome Simpson was arrested on drunken-driving charges.

“Our organization looks at each situation and the circumstances involved to determine our actions with those players and how to best move forward,” Spielman said in his statement. “The Vikings have a comprehensive approach with our player development program and excellent resources that are a part of this organization, but certainly we will take a methodical look at how we can improve upon our current programs to prevent these situations in the future.”

Henderson’s challenge

No criminal charges have been filed against Henderson, and he was not booked into jail after he was stopped at 3:19 a.m.

After the stop, Henderson took a breath test that showed a blood alcohol level of .11 percent, above the legal threshold of 0.08 percent.

In a news release, Eden Prairie police said Henderson was stopped for possible drunken driving and possession of a controlled substance. The police didn’t say what the substance was or provide further details, pending an investigation. Henderson’s driving privileges were revoked for 90 days, beginning Tuesday.

On Tuesday, Henderson’s lawyer, David Valentini, filed on his behalf what is called an “implied consent” petition. Valentini said that he has not seen police reports from the incident and that he can’t comment on the arrest, but that challenging the license revocation is standard in all drunken-driving arrests.

Valentini’s petition said that police didn’t have valid grounds to stop Henderson and that he was not “driving, operating or in physical control of a vehicle.”

The petition also challenged the officer’s explanation to Henderson and the validity of the test results.

Henderson has requested a hearing within 60 days. Valentini said it’s unlikely the case will be heard before Henderson’s revocation expires.

Henderson missed three days of practice last week as well as Sunday’s game at Green Bay for what coach Leslie Frazier described as a “personal situation.”

Frazier had declined to provide details, but Henderson said Wednesday his personal issues are separate from his arrest. He also declined to elaborate, but indicated that he’s taking steps to make changes with help from the team.

‘A wake-up call’

Henderson described the past week as “eye-opening.”

“It was a wake-up call for me and, honestly, it may be something that I needed in the long run,” he said. “Something I think will help me progress and become the person I’m capable of being and the man that I want to be.”

He was asked what he meant by saying this was something that he “needed.”

“You want to mature,” he said. “You want to grow up and you want to do things a certain way. But sometimes you can’t get out of your own way. But I think something like this will give me the opportunity to really step back and look in the mirror and look at my reflection and become happier with the person that I am, and the person that I know I can become.”

 

Staff writer Pamela Miller contributed to this report.

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