NFL suspends Vikings’ Peterson for rest of season
MINNEAPOLIS — Adrian Peterson’s future with the Minnesota Vikings dimmed further Tuesday, with the NFL suspending the star running back without pay for at least the rest of the season.
As his representatives initiated an appeal, Peterson remained at the center of an escalating dispute between the league and the NFL Players Association over the player discipline process.
Commissioner Roger Goodell told Peterson he will not be considered for reinstatement before April 15 for his violation of the NFL personal conduct policy — the first example of a crackdown on players involved with domestic violence.
The NFLPA quickly announced it would immediately appeal, calling for a neutral arbitrator to handle it, and sharply rebuked the league for what it labeled as inconsistency and unfairness in determining the discipline.
Arbitrator Shyam Das ruled in favor of the NFL on Tuesday evening, saying the league can keep Adrian Peterson on the commissioner’s exempt list, effectively ending any chance the Minnesota Vikings running back will play again this season, ESPN.com reported.
Das’ ruling was in reference to a grievance Peterson had filed arguing he should have been reinstated from the exempt list as soon as there was a resolution in his child abuse case, which came with his no contest plea on Nov. 4. Das’ ruling was not connected to the suspension.
Due to Das’ ruling, Peterson will remain on the exempt list until the appeal of his suspension is heard.
The NFL’s words were even stronger, with a nearly 1,600-word statement spelling out the conditions for Peterson’s path to return to the field and describing the reasons for the stiff punishment.
Goodell came down on Peterson for showing “no meaningful remorse” for hurting the boy and expressed concern that he “may feel free to engage in similar conduct in the future.”
“Further,” Goodell wrote, “the injury inflicted on your son includes the emotional and psychological trauma to a young child who suffers criminal physical abuse at the hands of his father. Second, the repetitive use of a switch in this instance is the functional equivalent of a weapon, particularly in the hands of someone with the strength of an accomplished professional athlete.”
Peterson pleaded no contest Nov. 4 to misdemeanor reckless assault in Texas for injuries to his 4-year-old son with a wooden switch. He said he intended no harm, only discipline. Peterson was on a special exempt list at the sole discretion of Goodell, essentially paid leave while the case went through the legal system.
The NFLPA said Peterson was told that would count as time served toward a suspension, citing an unidentified NFL executive. League spokesman Brian McCarthy said the stay on the exempt list was taken into account.
“There were aggravating circumstances that led to the discipline announced,” McCarthy said.
Peterson’s salary for the season was $11.75 million. He will keep the money accrued while on the exempt list. But the NFL’s punishment has now amounted to a 14-game ban, with six unpaid weeks. That’s the equivalent of a fine of more than $4.1 million.
The Vikings, who don’t practice Tuesdays, issued a brief statement: “We respect the league’s decision and will have no further comment at this time.”
According to the enhanced policy, first offenses of assault, battery or domestic violence bring a six-game suspension. Aggravating circumstances warrant higher levels of discipline.