Advocate staff file photo by BILL FEIG -- Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson.

Days away from traveling to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome to face the Saints, star Vikings running back Adrian Peterson decided to take voluntary leave with pay to resolve his “personal and legal issues,” the NFL Players union said in a statement Wednesday.

The union said it worked with the NFL, Peterson and the Vikings to “resolve this unique situation,” referring to the criminal child abuse case pending against him in Texas. The union added, “We support this decision and hope the best for (Peterson) and his family.”

Peterson was charged with reckless or negligent injury to a child by a grand jury after admitting that he struck his 4-year-old son with a tree branch. Peterson claimed to be disciplining his son the same way his own father disciplined him while growing up in Texas and didn’t intend any injury.

Last year, in an unrelated incident, Peterson’s other son died in South Dakota after allegedly being beaten by another man.

The Vikings (1-1) left Peterson inactive for their 30-7 loss at home to the New England Patriots this past Sunday while they gathered more information on the running back’s indictment in Texas. On Monday, they announced that Peterson would practice for and play against the 0-2 Saints in New Orleans this upcoming Sunday; but, after public pressure from sponsors and angry football fans, the Vikings in the middle of the night Tuesday said the three-time All-Pro running back would stay away from all team activities indefinitely by going on the exempt-commissioner’s permission list.

Peterson has 10,190 ground yards and 86 rushing touchdowns in the 104 regular-season games he has played in an NFL career that began in 2007 with the Vikings. The former NFL MVP has lost two of the three regular-season games he’s played against the Saints in his career, and he suffered a defeat against New Orleans in an NFC Championship Game in January 2010.

The Saints won their lone Super Bowl title two weeks later.