What you should know about Adrian Peterson's suspension, NFL future
Vikings running back Adrian Peterson's 2014 season is officially over after his suspension was upheld on appeal on Friday. So what's next?
How did we get here?
A brief timeline of events:
- Sept. 12: Peterson is indicted in Texas for "reckless or negligent injury to a child."
- Sept. 14: Vikings deactivate Peterson for Week 2 game.
- Sept. 15: Vikings announce that Peterson will play in Week 3.
- Sept. 17: Facing public pressure, the Vikings announce that Peterson is out until his legal issues are resolved, and he's placed on the commissioner's exempt list.
- Oct. 9: Prosecutors filed documents to have Peterson arrested again after he admitted to smoking "a little weed," which is a violation of his bond conditions.
- Nov. 4: Peterson enters a no contest plea, and is fined 4,000, ordered to serve 80 hours of community service and is placed on probation.
- Dec. 12: The NFL denies Peterson's appeal.
How did Harold Henderson reach his decision to uphold Peterson's suspension?
Henderson, a former NFL executive, was appointed by commissioner Roger Goodell to hear Peterson's appeal. Here's how Henderson explained Friday's decision to uphold Peterson's suspension:
"The facts in this appeal are uncontested," Henderson wrote. "The player entered a plea which effectively admitted guilt to a criminal charge of child abuse, after inflicting serious injuries to his four-year old son in the course of administering discipline. No direct evidence of the beating was entered in the record here, but numerous court documents, investigative reports, photographs and news reports, all accepted into evidence without objection, make it clear that Mr. Peterson’s conduct was egregious and aggravated as those terms are used in the Policy, and merits substantial discipline.
"His public comments do not reflect remorse or appreciation for the seriousness of his actions and their impact on his family, community, fans and the NFL, although at the close of the hearing he said he has learned from his mistake, he regrets that it happened and it will never happen again. I reject the argument that placement in Commissioner Exempt status is discipline.
"I conclude that the player has not demonstrated that the process and procedures surrounding his discipline were not fair and consistent; he was afforded all the protections and rights to which he is entitled, and I find no basis to vacate or reduce the discipline."
In late November, the NFLPA questioned Henderson's neutrality.
“A long-time NFL Executive and current legal consultant cannot, by definition, be a neutral arbitrator,” the union said in a statement, via PFT.
What does the NFLPA think now?
The union was unsurprised with the decision. Here's their statement, released shortly after Peterson's suspension was upheld:
"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."
Worth pointing out: One argument made by Peterson was that when Goodell suspended him, the running back wasn't credited with time served for the games he missed before the suspension was announced. As PFT.com's Mike Florio points out, Henderson devoted just 13 words to Peterson's argument.
"Football players want to play football," Florio wrote Friday night. "Keeping them from playing football constitutes discipline. Not giving them credit for the time missed while their legal cases are pending enhances the ultimate discipline imposed. Henderson’s failure to address the argument possibly makes the ruling even more susceptible to reversal by a federal court in Minnesota."
What's next for Adrian Peterson?
It's hard to envision a situation where the Vikings running back finds his way on the field in the next three weeks. Which means that, at the earliest, he can resume his NFL career in 2015.
Bottom line is its very difficult to think any chance Peterson plays this season. Goal will be to get possible reinstatement pre-April 15— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) December 12, 2014
As expected, Peterson was unhappy with the ruling.
"I feel like they're handling the situation absolutely wrong," he told ESPN.com's Ben Goessling on Friday night. "I think I've been made an example out of. It kind of baffles me how -- I have nothing but love for Ray Rice, I'm happy he has the chance to play. But it's like, how did Ray Rice get reinstated before me, a team has a chance to pick him up, but I don't have the opportunity to come back until April. When has that happened in any other case in the NFL, ever?"
Next stop, federal court?
Goessling writes: "According to a person with direct knowledge of the situation, a lawsuit will be filed against the NFL on Peterson's behalf in federal court in Minnesota as early as Monday. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the lawsuit had not yet been filed."
Would Peterson retire?
“I’ve considered retiring from the NFL,” Peterson told Goessling. “I still made $8 million this year. I’ve thought about getting back into the real estate [business in Texas] I’m already in. That’s something I’ve been interested in, something I’m involved in. I’ve thought about getting back into that."
Another option: The Olympics.
"I’ve thought about going after the Olympics -- you only live once. It might be time for me to pursue that, as well. I love playing football, don’t get me wrong, but this situation is deeper than that. For me, it’s like, ‘Why should I continue to be a part of an organization or a business that handles players the way they do? Making money off the field anyway, why not continue to pursue that [Olympic] dream and pursue other dreams and hang up the cleats?' ...
“I’ve seriously thought about this real hard. I continue to pray about it, but it’s been something that has been heavy, heavy on my heart,” Peterson said.
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