Adrian Peterson v. the Star Tribune

In this July 28, 2014, file photo, Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson looks on during NFL football training camp in Mankato. Charlie Neibergall/AP

Though he and his attorney refused to answer questions before the story was published, Adrian Peterson and the Star Tribune are waging a fierce battle with each other over Sunday’s blockbuster, including an allegation of financial impropriety at Peterson’s All Day foundation.

The newspaper also said a hotel room where a party was held that resulted in a rape allegation, was paid for with Peterson’s credit card.

In the last few hours, Peterson responded via Twitter, claiming among other things that the Star Tribune reporters followed the wrong charitable organization when it tracked its contributions.

Arif Hasan, who writes Vikings Territory, has been analyzing the original story and trail of financial transactions and found that ESPN had already done the story and traced where the money from Peterson’s foundation went.

Specifically, Outside the Lines, ESPN’s investigative journalism arm, had already examined the 2008-2011 tax forms and found that over 50 percent of the organization’s revenue went to the Straight from the Heart Ministries. It’s the same ministry that recruited Reggie White to do its proselytizing and was well known in the 1990s for its active work in denouncing homosexuality.

Bill Horn, who ran the group, became friends with a former teammate of Adrian’s at Oklahoma and ended up being the treasurer of Peterson’s charity for a short time (he is no longer the treasurer). Though listed as the president of that ministry, he says he was not involved with it and does not see a conflict of interest on being on the board of Peterson’s charity and its largest recipient.

The man who runs the foundation claims that the Star Tribune never called.

“I wish they’d have given us a call and given us a chance to clear up some of these misconceptions,” said Bruce Richman, who runs the All Day Foundation now, told ProFootballTalk.com.

Richman said much of the problem resulted from poor management of the foundation prior to 2011. A new management team was hired after that.

“There’s no real story since 2011,” Richman said. “Because we’ve cleaned everything up.”

“The deal is if you’re claiming you cleaned everything up, we’ll be the first to report that. But prove it,” said Paul McEnroe, one of the reporters involved with the Star Tribune report, who vigorously defended it during an appearance on KFAN on Tuesday afternoon. “The problem is you’re late on the 2012 late report, which leads to the question: If you’re late how can you prove you cleaned everything up?

“There was no sloppy cutting corners slanting the information in order to make it look a certain way,” he said. “If there’s anything about (Star Tribune reporter) Mike Kaszuba, he’s thorough. He busted it trying to get the right people. According to Mike, he attempted to call the foundation, but the foundation it turns out has a phone number that’s listed that’s disconnected. That’s one roadblock. Until yesterday, nobody had ever heard of Paul Richman who called Kaszuba and described himself as a philanthropic adviser to Adrian Peterson. The main point was the foundation he said has gone through a lot of sloppy reporting and he told Mike they’re making every effort to turn it around.

“It’s obvious that he did not really dig into the foundation’s documentation, which — the best way to say it — is a holy mess,” McEnroe said of Peterson’s adviser.

KFAN host Dan Barreiro, a former Star Tribune columnist, said the story should have included denials from Peterson’s camp, but says Peterson’s camp should’ve responded when given the opportunity.

“I still have a hard time believing that if ESPN get ahold of Richman, the Star Tribune can’t,” he said. “But I’ll also add if you approach Peterson directly through his attorney and you lay out several aspects of the story, and the decision is not to comment, that has to be factored into the equation. Would it have been better that you approach the person now dealing with the foundation? Yes. But even if ProFootballTalk.com (is) claiming there’s no story because ‘we’ve cleaned everything up’ … maybe. We don’t really know. I don’t believe there’s been any documentation that, indeed, offers that.”

Related: Emotional reaction to Star Tribune’s in-depth Adrian Peterson report ( Star Tribune).

  • Robert Moffitt

    If I was doing PR for the Vikings (and I thank God I ‘m not), I would insist that the team own any social media outlets players might used. I would have shut down his Twitter account on Day One. Why? The misuse of ALL CAPS is bad enough, but questioning the integrity of the media that reports on you? That’s a no-win situation. His earlier tweets evoking God were also off mark.
    The Star Tribune should look at itself long and hard, too. They were a big part of the system that made him a star and overlooked those red flags along the way. They also seem to be making a tidy profit from the sale of their property.

    • Kazuba, McEnroe, and Olsen are three pretty fine reporters who long ago established their journalistic chops around here. It’s also worth noting none of them work in the sports department.

      • jon

        Which is the really interesting part of the story to me, ESPN “Got it right” according to Peterson, but of course non-sports writers wouldn’t be able to find the “right” person to talk to on account of not being in the inner circle.

        Time and time again Newscut has shown to me (not a sports fan) just how closely sports reporters are tied to the sports they report on, and time and time again it has demonstrated a lack of a free and independent sports press. (I recall several stories about people loosing their jobs for writing stories unfavorably about the home team.)
        If ESPN can find the “right” person to talk to, but an non-sports journalist can’t, perhaps it’s because the non-sports journalist doesn’t have the threat of the NFL hanging over their head to ensure that they get it “RIGHT” from the perspective of the NFL.

        On the other hand, never attribute to malice what could be attributed to stupidity. I’ve no doubt that plenty of charitable organizations are run extremely poorly… It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

      • David

        The love-hate between the media and pro sports is always fascinating. The Star Tribune was perhaps the biggest cheerleader for a new stadium. Their boosterism is in large part responsible for the popularity of a sketchy product. The media’s love of pro sports is directly responsible for the amazing compensation players earn on and off the field, and the value of the team. Yet, among all the adoring sports writers, there are news reporters too. Reporters who are routinely vilified by players, management and owners for reporting the other sides of this business.

      • Robert Moffitt

        Well said.

        • I don’t think you have to hate pro sports in order to be able to report well on pro sports.

  • Ryan

    What I don’t understand is that if ESPN stated it spoke to Richman and reported this story on Sept. 17. Why is McEnroe saying no one has heard of him until yesterday?

  • oscar birdow

    professional football players do so many wonderful things for adults, children, hospitals, charitable org. etc. There are so many truthful and positive things to report. I have a solution to reporters who intentionally, knowingly, and recklessly report lies in order to boost their career and disgrace the career of another human. that reporter should face punishment if and when proven guilty. Ad Peterson is a good and descent man, not because of his talent because he was born that way and for all you reporters that are sorry and taking advantage of this time that will pass your day is coming and it won’t be pretty. It is my prayer that Ad never allows anyone except god to live inside his head and he doesn’t let his heart grow cold because of ignorant people.