Hearing the appeal was Harold Henderson, the league’s former vice president for labor relations, who concluded that Peterson did not demonstrate “that the process and procedures surrounding his discipline were not fair and consistent.”
Henderson said in a written statement that Peterson “was afforded all the protections and rights to which he is entitled, and I find no basis to vacate or reduce the discipline.”
The NFL Players Assn. issued a statement criticizing the decision and questioning the impartiality of Henderson as a third-party arbitrator.
The statement read: "The NFLPA expected this outcome, given the hearing officer's relationship and financial ties to the NFL. The decision itself ignores the facts, the evidence and the collective bargaining agreement. This decision also represents the NFL's repeated failure to adhere to due process and confirms its inconsistent treatment of players. Our union is considering immediate legal remedies."
Peterson has not played since Week 2, when he was indicted by a grand jury in Texas on a felony charge of injury to a child. He was accused of striking his 4-year-old son with a switch.
Peterson, the NFL’s most valuable player in 2012, was placed on the commissioner’s exempt list, essentially paid leave.
On Nov. 4, Peterson pleaded no contest to a reduced charge of misdemeanor reckless assault, with the belief that would clear the way for him to return this season. That allowed him to avoid jail time in exchange for probation, a $4,000 fine and 80 hours of community service.
Two weeks later, however, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended him until at least April 15, 2015, for violating the league’s personal conduct policy.
"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," Goodell wrote in a letter to Peterson at the time. "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."
The basis for Peterson’s appeal was his understanding when he agreed to be placed on the commissioner’s exempt list that he would get credit for “time served” and would be able to return this season. He said he was told that by Troy Vincent, the league’s executive vice president for football operations.