Embattled Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was suspended without pay on Tuesday for at least the remainder of the 2014 NFL season, a move that led the league’s players association to announce it would appeal the decision.
NFLCommissionerRoger Goodelltold Peterson in a letter that he was being suspended for the remainder of the season because he violated the league’s personal conduct policy after pleading no contest to child abuse charges earlier this month.
“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,” wrote Goodell. “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.”
Peterson was indicted in Texas in September on a charge of causing injury to a child. Two weeks ago, Peterson pleaded no contest to misdemeanor reckless assault charges in Texas in exchange for a deal that allowed him to avoid jail time in exchange for probation, a $4,000 fine and 80 hours of community service.
The Vikings released a two-sentence statement Tuesday morning: “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.”
TheNFL Players Assn.said in a statement Tuesday the suspension “is another example of the credibility gap that exists between the agreements they make and the actions they take.”
The NFLPA went on to state: “Since Adrian’s legal matter was adjudicated, the NFL has ignored their obligations and attempted to impose a new and arbitrary disciplinary proceeding.
“The facts are that Adrian has asked for a meeting with Roger Goodell, the discipline imposed is inconsistent and an NFL executive told Adrian that his time on the Commissioner’s list would be considered as time served. The NFLPA will appeal this suspension and will demand that a neutral arbitrator oversee the appeal. We call on the NFL Management Council to show our players and our sponsors leadership by committing to collective bargaining so a fair personal conduct policy can be implemented as quickly as possible.”
The statement reflects the acrimony leading up to Peterson’s grievance hearing with the NFL via telephone on Monday, with a debate percolating about whether the NFL was treating Peterson fairly by keeping him off the field.
Peterson, the league’s most valuable player in 2012, had agreed in September to be placed on the exempt/commissioner’s permission list after allegations surfaced that he had disciplined his 4-year-old son with a tree “switch” during the off-season. That designation meant that until his legal issues were adjudicated, Peterson would still be paid by the Vikings but was not eligible to play.
Peterson, who has missed nine games, said that under the terms of the agreement he signed Sept. 16 to go on the newly formed commissioner’s list, he would be cleared to return when his legal matters were resolved.
However, the league argued Peterson first had to meet with Goodell to discuss the case and any additional punishment the star running back might face. There was a meeting scheduled for last Friday but Peterson declined to attend.
On Sunday, Peterson released a statement through the NFL Players Assn. contending that any such hearing was not negotiated in the collective bargaining agreement.
“The report that I backed out of a meeting with the NFL is just not true. When Roger Goodell’s office asked that I attend the ‘hearing’ on Friday, I consulted with my union and learned that this ‘hearing’ was something new and inconsistent with the CBA. On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of this past week, my union sent e-mails, letters, and had conversations with his office on my behalf asking about the nature of the hearing, how it was to occur, who would participate, and its purpose. We repeatedly asked them to respond quickly to my questions because I want to cooperate and get back on the field, but they didn’t respond until late Wednesday evening, and even then they didn’t answer important questions about their proposed ‘hearing.’
“After consulting with the union, I told the NFL that I will attend the standard meeting with the Commissioner prior to possible imposition of discipline, as has been the long-term practice under the CBA, but I wouldn’t participate in a newly created and non-collectively bargained pre-discipline ‘hearing’ that would include outside people I don’t know and who would have roles in the process that the NFL wouldn’t disclose. At this point, I’ve resolved my matter in the criminal court; I’ve worked to make amends for what I’ve done; I’ve missed most of the season, and I stand ready to be candid and forthcoming with Mr. Goodell about what happened. However, I will not allow the NFL to impose a new process of discipline on me, ignore the CBA, ignore the deal they agreed to with me, and behave without fairness or accountability. The process they are pushing is arbitrary, inconsistent, and contrary to what they agreed to do, and for those reasons, I never agreed to the hearing.
“I’m sorry for all of this, but I can’t excuse their refusal to be fair.”