Jerome Felton apologizes for DWI arrest: 'I've got to be smart'
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Four days after being arrested on a second-degree DWI charge, Minnesota Vikings fullback Jerome Felton apologized for his actions.
"I never want to put myself in those type of situations, shed a negative light on this team and this organization," Felton said Wednesday following the Vikings' practice during Organized Team Activities at Winter Park. "They've been really good to me, the fans have been great. I love it here.
"I can't put myself in the negative situations that (do not have) a positive impact on the team and community. That's something that's very important to me, and I just want to sincerely apologize to the fans, number one, the organization and everybody around the Vikings."
Felton was arrested by Eden Prairie police around 3 a.m. last Saturday while in the drive-thru line at the McDonald's located on Prairie Center Drive.
Police, who responded after receiving a report of an intoxicated driver waiting in the line, conducted field sobriety tests on Felton.
He was arrested for second-degree driving while intoxicated with an aggravating factor of refusal to take an alcohol breath test. That is a gross misdemeanor. He also was charged with third-degree DWI with an aggravating factor of one prior DWI conviction within 10 years (gross misdemeanor); as well as careless driving (misdemeanor).
Felton, 25, was booked into the Hennepin County Jail at 5:51 a.m. Saturday and released by noon after posting $12,000 bond. The Eden Prairie City Attorney handles prosecution of gross misdemeanor cases.
Felton's initial court appearance is scheduled for 8:15 a.m. on July 18 at Ridgedale Courthouse in Minnetonka.
"I was extremely disappointed," Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said when asked about Felton's arrest. "We talked about some things when we got together for our first OTA in our meetings and how we wanted to conduct ourselves and then when a new guy comes to the club and he's a veteran guy and something happens like it did over the weekend, it's very disappointing.
"It's something we'll have to deal with and have to address. But you don't want that to drown out all the good things some of our players are doing and what they do in the community. But (I'm) extremely disappointed that that would happen."
Felton, who worked with the starters at fullback on Wednesday, said the first thing he did was call Frazier and others within the organization to tell them what had happened.
"I apologized for just being in one of those types of situations and shedding a negative light on this team because everybody's trying to be positive here and the team's doing a great job of that," Felton said. "I definitely don't want to be the person that has a negative influence."
Felton, a fifth-round pick of the Detroit Lions in 2008 who has appeared in 56 games for the Lions, Carolina and Indianapolis, signed a one-year deal with the Vikings in March. He declined to get into the particulars of what he was told in conversations with team officials after his arrest.
"It was some personal discussions just about making good decisions, not putting yourself in any types of situations where negative things can happen and just being smart when it comes to that," he said. "The Vikings do a great job of educating us and putting programs in place to keep us out of situations. So I've got to be smart, we've got to be smart as a team, to make sure we take advantage of all those sources."
Felton also said his lawyer had instructed him not to discuss his previous DWI arrest.
As for the potential for NFL discipline, Felton said it was too early to know how that might play out.
"There's not much I can comment on that right now," he said. "It's early in the process, and I'll handle everything that comes my way, the consequences of whatever happens, and I'll move forward and be positive from here on out. I can assure the organization and the fans of that."
Felton was at least the sixth Vikings player arrested since the start of 2011 and the third on a DUI-related charge, even though the team offers a free car service to all of its players to prevent such incidents.
End Everson Griffen was arrested twice in a span of three days in January 2011, for public intoxication and felony battery of a police officer. It's unclear if he was ever charged in either case.
Cornerback Chris Cook was arrested for brandishing a weapon in March 2011 and then for felony domestic battery in October. He was acquitted in both cases.
Running back Caleb King was released a day after his April arrest on suspicion of third-degree assault with substantial bodily harm.
Cornerback Benny Sapp received a citation for misdemeanor assault and careless driving after allegedly chest-bumping a hospital security guard in December but wasn't arrested.
Asked if there might be some changes needed given the number of arrests, Frazier said:
"I don't know other than what we're doing. You're always trying to look at the people that you sign and that you draft and that's probably the number one thing you take a look at. But we'll always try to see what we're doing and how we're doing and what can make us better both on and off the football field.
"I also know that when you're dealing with young men at this age there is a possibility that this will happen. It wouldn't surprise me, it hopefully doesn't happen, but there may be some other incidents around the league or on our team. You hope that it doesn't happen, but you always have to be aware that that's possibility that it could happen."
Tom Pelissero contributed