Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson played against the Carolina Panthers in Sunday's Week 6 game after his two-year-old son passed away on Friday.
Peterson's son was the victim of an alleged assault by Joseph Robert Patterson, the boyfriend of the infant's mother, according to a report by CNN's Greg Botelho and Jason Hanna.
Fox Sports ' Mike Garafolo passed along a text sent to Laura Okmin from Peterson, who explained why he decided to take the field versus Carolina:
Before news of the tragedy had fully unfolded, Peterson said he was intent on playing, telling the media Friday what football meant to him in tough times, per Dave Campbell of the Associated Press:
Football is something I will always fall back on. It gets me through tough times. Just being around the guys in here, that's what I need in my life, guys supporting me. ... Things that I go through, I've said a thousand times, it helps me play this game to a different level. I'm able to kind of release a lot of my stress through this sport, so that's what I plan on doing.
After the game, Peterson explained the process and mindset that led to his decision to play (via Tom Pelissero of USA Today):
"I prayed about it, man. It is what it is," said Peterson after the game. "It's not like (prayer) made it disappear. For the most part, I was able to be focused and feel like I could go out there and help my team."
He returned to practice Friday, pledged to play and attended the Vikings' walkthrough and meetings Saturday.
"I don't ask people to understand my mindset and how I think," said Peterson. "I try to take good from it, and that's the way I approach life, with all situations.
"I never thought about not playing. It was all about just going out there and praying to God I'd have the strength to get through and help my team. That was my focus."
One reporter after the game asked Peterson about his relationship with his son.
"Can we focus on football? I'm not really trying to get into details on that," Peterson said. "We just got blown out by (25) points. So let's focus on football and what the Minnesota Vikings can do to get better."
Peterson finished with 10 rushes for 62 yards and three catches for 21 yards in Minnesota's 35-10 loss to the Panthers.