Friday, November 27, 2015

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(photo used with permission)

“If Adrian Peterson doesn’t stay with the team it will be very unfortunate, because the thought of him working in Norv Turner’s offense—who has a long track record of maximizing his RBs’ talents—is still something that gives me chills.”

The above thoughts are from Luke Inman, friend of Vikings Territory and contributor for eDraft Sports. A lifelong Vikings fan, Inman is thrilled to spend most of his days doing what he loves: working around football. Inman joined eDraft almost two years ago, and he helped in a variety of departments, including NCAA Football, NFL Draft and Fantasy Football.

Inman started out as a contributing writer, but now he has his hands in many other areas of the site as well. Being local, Inman has the opportunity to photograph events such as Vikings Training Camp or the Senior Bowl, and he also hosts eDraft podcasts. You name it, he can do it.

If you’re excited for the NFL Draft, Inman assures you that he has a ton of great content coming. Starting next week, he will be launching a Daily Draft Player Profile: a five-minute video on a 2015 draft prospect that will include highlights, analysis, and breakdown of the player’s strengths and potential team fits.

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Newly acquired tight end Brandon Bostick recently penned an honest assessment of his life since his disastrous attempt to recover an onside kick in the NFC Championship Game.

Bostick, who was waived by the Packers afterwards and then claimed by the Vikings, says that he has had trouble getting that moment out of his mind. It haunts him as he’s falling asleep, as he is dreaming, and when he wakes up in the morning.

Of course, the media coverage and nature of social media has not helped him to try and forget about it, but Bostick’s article has a feel to it that suggests he needed to write it and get his feelings out there as a part of the healing process.

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Adrian Peterson Stiff Arms Chicago Defender
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[Note: As the Adrian Peterson saga drags on, now is a perfect time to continue the three-part study Brad Davis has put together on the likelihood of decline from Adrian Peterson. Previously, we looked at Adrian Peterson’s statistical output alone when determining whether or not he’s declining, but in Part Three, Brad Davis looked at 33 different running backs to see the commonalities in running back decline and how they apply to Adrian. Davis, who doesn’t take a stance on Peterson’s trade value in these pieces, ran through the data with rigorous statistical analysis. Part One of the study, which looks solely at Peterson’s career, is here. Part Two of the study, which answers criticisms and questions of part one, is here.]

by Brad Davis

Everybody who follows football beyond the casual observer ‘knows’ that running backs, ALL running backs, performance declines with age.  And everybody makes reference to the fact that this decline begins around age 30. This fact was brought up again and again in the discussion of whether Adrian Peterson has shown significant decline in his performance or whether we should expect to see this decline shortly.

In the first two blog posts discussing whether Adrian Peterson has shown any evidence of decline in his play over the course of his career, we evaluated his performance using four different metrics: Yards per attempt, WPA, and two different success rate measures: DD (down and distance), and AFA over two different time scales: his entire career, and the three most recent years in his career.  And we didn’t see any evidence of decline in his performance for any of those four metrics over either time scale.

However in the course of that analysis and over the course of some discussion on forums and twitter, we began to wonder if it would be possible to detect any evidence for the decline in the performance of any running back using these metrics? After all, if everyone knows that all running backs decline and our metric for measuring decline is any good, we should be able to detect it, right?

With that in mind, we set out to see if the data supports this widely held view, not using conjecture, not using our eyes, but using rigorous statistical analysis of running back performance data. This was a pretty major undertaking.  We obtained running back performance data for 33 running backs who have more than 8 years of history playing in the NFL who started playing in 1998 or later.   This list includes: Adrian Peterson, Ahmad Bradshaw, Ahman Green, Brandon Jacobs, Brian Westbrook, Cedric Benson, Chester Taylor, Clinton Portis, DeAngelo Williams, Deuce McAllister, Dominic Rhodes, Edgerrin James, Frank Gore, Fred Jackson, Fred Taylor, LaDainian Tomlinson, LaMont Jordan, Larry Johnson, Marshawn Lynch, Maurice Jones-Drew, Michael Turner, Mike Anderson, Pierre Thomas, Reggie Bush, Ricky Williams, Ron Dayne, Ronnie Brown, Rudi Johnson, Sammy Morris, Shaun Alexander, Steven Jackson, Thomas Jones, and Willis McGahee.

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He's loose

Adrian Peterson carries the ball against the Carolina Panthers.
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FURTHER UPDATE: The NFL has released a statement, the most important tidbit of which is that Adrian Peterson has been returned to the NFL Roster Exemption/Commissioner’s Permission List.

Judge Doty’s order did not contain any determinations concerning the fairness of the appeals process under the CBA, including the commissioner’s longstanding authority to appoint a designee to act as a hearing officer. Even so, we believe strongly that Judge Doty’s order is incorrect and fundamentally at odds with well-established legal precedent governing the district court’s role in reviewing arbitration decisions. As a result, we have filed a notice of appeal to have the ruling reviewed by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. In the interim, Adrian Peterson will be returned to the Commissioner Exempt List pending further proceedings by appeals officer Harold Henderson or a determination by the Eighth Circuit Court.

It has been the NFL’s contention that the courts had no authority to review arbitration decisions and it sounds like they will use this argument once more in appeal. As far as I know, and this is an educated guess, the Vikings and Peterson cannot have contact with each other while he is on the Exempt List until the new league year, and he cannot be traded (until the new league year, I believe—the exempt list does not prevent a trade by itself).

Wrong again! According to Ben Goessling at ESPN, the Exempt List DOES allow a player and a team to communicate. This means all the analysis for why that matters (below) is applicable.

The Eighth Circuit Court holds court one week a year in mid-April, and rulings come out in late May and early June. No word yet on what it means for the NFL April 15 hearing on Adrian Peterson’s suspension, because… well, he’s not suspended anymore.

UPDATE: Per Ian Rapaport of the NFL Network, the NFL will appeal Judge Doty’s decision, presumably seeking an injunction while the case is settling in a District Court.

In important news, the @NFL is expected to appeal the Adrian Peterson ruling handed down by Judge Doty. Explanation coming online.

— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) February 26, 2015

This does not preclude a second arbitration hearing “under the old policy,” though I suspect if it happened, the NFL would find a way to uphold their own ruling again. No word yet on whether or not the NFL will challenge both rulings (the retroactivity one and the one arguing Henderson had the authority to rule on the old policy as well) or just one.

As Andrew Brandt notes, courts are increasingly hesitant to overrule the rulings of an arbitrator, and that may include the ruling over what an arbitrator can rule over, as it were—meaning courts can defer to an arbitrator’s interpretation of their own scope of power, and increasingly do (as friends in the legal community have confirmed to me).

The Eighth District Court may rule that Judge Doty was correct in ruling against the NFL for punishing Peterson according to the old conduct policy but incorrect with regards to the arbitrator’s scope—that is, the District Court may argue Henderson’s ruling that Peterson’s suspension is upheld under the old policy still applies.

According to former Minnesota Viking Robert Smith of ESPN, Judge David Doty has ruled in favor of Adrian Peterson and the NFLPA in their court case contesting Harold Henderson’s ruling to suspend Adrian Peterson. That does not precisely reinstate Peterson, but it does overturn Henderson’s ruling. Text as follows: 


1. The petition to vacate arbitration award [ECF No. 2] is granted; and

2. The case is remanded for such further proceedings consistent with this order as the CBA may permit.

The Court found that the NFL violated the “essence of the CBA” by violating industrial common law and argued that the Ray Rice precedent was proof; the NFL’s attempt to distinguish the cases didn’t pass muster.

According to Doty, “Although Henderson purported to rely on factual differences between Rice and this case, he did not explain how those differences would justify a different result.” The arbitration is therefore vacated, although I’m not sure if this means Adrian Peterson is reinstated or whether or not this forces the NFL to reconsider the NFLPA’s appeal against his suspension (functionally retrying the case under the old policy). Regardless, this should mean that Peterson will be reinstated soon because his punishment exceeded the bounds of the old policy.

The NFLPA has said that Adrian Peterson’s suspension has been overturned, while the text of the ruling doesn’t seem as obvious to me.

EDIT: My intuition was correct—he has not been reinstated, the arbitration has been rebuked. Peterson’s and the NFLPA’s appeal of suspension with the NFL is active once more and it will be decided upon by the old policy.

The NFL released the following, five-word statement: “We are reviewing the decision.”

The NFLPA released the following statement:

“This is a victory for the rule of law, due process and fairness. Our collective bargaining agreement has rules for implementation of the personal conduct policy and when those rules are violated, our union always stands up to protect our players’ rights. This is yet another example why neutral arbitration is good for our players, good for the owners and good for our game.”

The NFL has legal recourse in this case and can file an appeal and can potentially seek an injunction on the stay of suspension granted by the court, functionally re-suspending him. That would take it up to the circuit court.

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Mock Draft season, a three-month frenzy of “what-ifs”, gives us the chance to step into Rick Spielman’s shoes from February to April. We can speculate free agency moves, predict possible roster cuts, and determine who the Vikings will take with the 11th-overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. You’ve read the first edition of our mock drafts, and now, it’s your turn to don “Slick Rick’s” thinking cap.

On Wednesday, I took to Twitter, where I asked Vikings followers who they’d like to see the team draft in April. Some envisioned a DeVante Parker-Teddy Bridgewater reunion, while others imagined a safety tandem of Harrison Smith and Landon Collins. Here are a few of the final results:

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