The NFL today suspended Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson without pay through the end of the 2014 season including the playoffs. In announcing the suspension, the NFL said Peterson “will not be considered for reinstatement before April 15.”
If the Minnesota Vikings decide to cut Peterson, that date would eliminate the possibility of Peterson playing for another NFL team this season.
Peterson has been on the commissioner’s Exempt List since September after accusations surfaced of child abuse. The charges were initially felony child abuse. Attorneys for the All-Pro running back negotiated a plea of “no contest” to the lesser charge of reckless assault. Peterson made his plea and the case was closed November 4.
The NFL Players Association will move quickly to appeal today’s ruling. According to a statement from the NFL, the appeal will have to come quickly.
“Under Article 46 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, Peterson may appeal the decision by giving written notice to the commissioner within three business days. If he appeals, a hearing will be scheduled promptly, at which he may be represented by counsel of his choice and by the NFLPA and at which he will have the opportunity to present evidence in support of his appeal. If he appeals, Peterson will remain on the Exempt List and continue to be paid pending a decision.”
With an appeal by the NFLPA imminent, Peterson will thus not go without pay for the foreseeable future, even though he will be watching Minnesota Vikings games live on TV rather than from the sidelines or on the field.
Peterson’s NFL future may be cloudy at the moment, but he may yet still play in the league. In a letter to Peterson that was quoted in the NFL’s statement today, Commissioner Roger Goodell said “The timing of your potential
reinstatement will be based on the results of the counseling and treatment program set forth in this decision. Under this two-step approach, the precise length of the suspension will depend on your actions. We are prepared to put in place a program that can help you to succeed, but no program can succeed without your genuine and continuing engagement. You must commit yourself to your counseling and rehabilitative effort, properly care for your children, and have no further violations of law or league policy.”
Goodell’s letter goes on to sound even more parental: “[Y]ou have shown no meaningful remorse for your conduct. When indicted, you acknowledged what you did but said that you would not ‘eliminate whooping my kids’ and defended your conduct in numerous published text messages to the child’s mother. You also said that you felt ‘very confident with my actions because I know my intent.’ These comments raise the serious concern that you do not fully appreciate the seriousness of your conduct, or even worse, that you may feel free to engage in similar conduct in the future.”
Although it was scolding and pejorative, Goodell’s statement clearly opens the door to Peterson playing another NFL game. It just won’t be this season, and it may not be with the Minnesota Vikings.
Vikings officials have not yet commented. In an official statement on the Vikings’ website, the team said simply “The NFL has informed the Vikings of today’s decision regarding Adrian Peterson. We respect the league’s decision and will have no further comment at this time.”