Anheuser-Busch, one of the NFL’s biggest sponsors, says it isn’t happy with the recent controversy that has engulfed the league.
The beer giant issued a statement on Tuesday saying it was ‘‘disappointed and increasingly concerned’’ by recent incidents and was not yet satisfied with the league’s response. It said it had shared its concerns and expectations with the NFL.
The league has come under fire for its handling of former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice’s assault of his then-fiancee. The Minnesota Vikings have also been criticized for allowing Adrian Peterson to play while he faces a charge of abuse for spanking his 4-year-old son with a wooden switch.
Anheuser-Busch’s sponsorship fees alone are worth an estimated $50 million a year, according to sponsorship consultancy IEG.
Also Tuesday, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton pressured the Vikings to suspend Peterson until an accusation of child abuse was resolved in the Texas legal system.
Dayton added his voice to those questioning the team’s decision to reinstate Peterson after benching him the week before. Peterson is accused of using a wooden switch to spank his 4-year-old son. He has said he was sorry for hurting the child but did not intend to and is not a child abuser.
‘‘Yes, Mr. Peterson is entitled to due process and should be ‘innocent until proven guilty,'’’ Dayton said in a written statement. ‘‘However, he is a public figure; and his actions, as described, are a public embarrassment to the Vikings organization and the state of Minnesota. Whipping a child to the extent of visible wounds, as has been alleged, should not be tolerated in our state.’’
Taxpayers in Minnesota are putting in roughly half of the team’s new $1 billion stadium under construction. Dayton said he wouldn’t let the Peterson situation sidetrack that deal.
‘‘I will not turn my back on the Vikings and their fans, as some have suggested,’’ Dayton said. ‘‘The Vikings belong to Minnesota — and in Minnesota.’’
Other politicians hit the same note. Sen. Al Franken and his GOP opponent, Mike McFadden, both issued statements calling the decision wrong.
‘‘A lot of kids look up to these players, and it’s not OK for the Vikings to send the signal that what happened is acceptable,’’ Franken said.
‘‘I believe that allowing Adrian Peterson to continue on as if nothing happened sends the wrong message,’’ McFadden said.