Nike Cuts Ties With NFL’s Peterson After Assault Plea

Nike Inc. severed ties with Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson after his plea agreement to a misdemeanor assault charge over the whipping of his 4-year-old son.

The world’s largest sporting-goods maker had suspended Peterson’s endorsement contract in September after he was indicted for striking his child with a tree branch to discipline him. Nike has now completed the separation, spokesman KeJuan Wilkins said yesterday in an e-mail.

Peterson was fined $4,000 on Nov. 4 by a Texas state judge and ordered to perform 80 hours of community service after he pleaded no contest to reckless assault. He will serve no jail time. His return to the National Football League’s Minnesota Vikings will hinge on NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who is the only one who can reinstate him.

In September, Nike also ended its endorsement deal with fellow running back Ray Rice. The company severed ties in this case only after a video showing the former Baltimore Ravens player punching his then-fiancee unconscious. Rice had been arrested in February, though criminal charges were later dropped in exchange for court-supervised counseling.

Nike has a history of maintaining relationships with star athletes when controversies prompt other sponsors to sever ties. It stood by basketball player Kobe Bryant when he faced charges of rape, later dropped, and stayed with golfer Tiger Woods following reports of infidelity.

The Beaverton, Oregon-based company has said the use of performance-enhancing drugs is a reason to sever ties. Nike terminated a deal with bicyclist Lance Armstrong after he admitted doping. Last year it released Major League Baseball player Ryan Braun, a former National League MVP, after he was suspended for drug violations.

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