It was an emotional day for the Minnesota Vikings and the team's fans as Adrian Peterson returned to the field just days after his 2-year-old son's death, with many bringing messages of support that go far beyond team spirit.
Some questioned the star running back's decision to play so soon after the loss, but most fans who spoke with FOX 9 News say they know the field has helped him cope in the past.
For many Vikings fans, Sunday's game was overshadowed by the MVP's personal tragedy, and it was the talk of FOX's pre-game show and abuzz among the fans who flocked to the Metrodome.
"I feel bad for Adrian Peterson, what happened to his son," 12-year-old Jessica Glenn told FOX 9 News as she displayed the home-made sign she brought. "I'm cheering him on today."
Glenn and her family came all the way to Minneapolis from Sioux Falls, S.D. -- which is where Peterson's son died of injuries he sustained in alleged beating. Prior to the news that the running back was in the state for a "family medical issue," few fans knew he had a toddler growing up in that state.
"That was a surprise," fan Yvonne Smith admitted.
A surprise soon met with sorrow, and the pre-game festivities took a new tone as fans turned from pre-game festivities to focus on the serious topic of domestic abuse.
"It's portrayed as huge because he's famous, but it's such a problem in our society that's getting recognition now," Smith said. "Hopefully, it'll bring awareness to a tragedy that happens all the time."
Inside the Metrodome, there were 28s all over the place -- many worn by children. Some parents told FOX 9 News they plan to approach the issue as a teaching moment for their young fans.
As Peterson came out onto the field, the cheers swelled.
"I hope he gets that people do care about his story and that they do se what's happening," Alex Bowman said. "We are here to help him through it."
The Bowmans even went to Peterson's house earlier in the week to drop off flowers.
"They came out and said ,'Thank you,'" Robin Bowman recalled. "It was just -- he's torn. It's a child. Who does that to a child?"
After the game, Peterson spoke with reporters about his decision to play, saying, "I never thought about not playing."
Peterson said he doesn't expect others to understand his decision, but getting on the field has always helped him cope. He also declined to discuss the relationship he had with the child.