The NFL Players Association has filed an expedited, non-injury grievance against the NFL on behalf of Adrian Peterson to remove him from the exempt/Commissioner’s Permission list, per multiple reports. According to Adam Schefter, they released the following statement:
We asked the NFL to honor the terms of that agreement last week and as of now, they have failed to respond or comply. It is our obligation to protect all players’ rights, and we will pursue any and all breaches of any contract between a player and his team or the NFL
It is the NFLPA’s contention that there was an agreement to take Adrian Peterson off the exempt list as soon as all of Peterson’s legal issues were resolved, contrary to Andrew Brandt’s report that the agreement was never made (for what it’s worth, Pro Football Talk argues the opposite). That the NFLPA contends that there was an explicit signed agreement is damning for the NFL, who reneged on an agreement made with a player.
Something that may be delaying the NFL’s decision may be reports of internal divisions within the Vikings—Ian Rapaport argues that the executives on the team are divided about whether or not he should play. On the other hand, Mike Florio at Pro Football Talk argues those reports are specious. It seems more likely that Rapaport’s report on this situation is true, if only because it is difficult to believe reports after the fact that internal divisions do not exist.
Per Florio, “a hearing could be held and the case could be resolved before Minnesota’s next game on Sunday, at Chicago.” Should the NFLPA win their grievance, Peterson will be cleared to play immediately, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be suspended when the NFL finally does make a decision. One interesting benefit to the league: they can functionally test the waters on a potential Adrian return if they lose their grievance while shielding themselves from criticism from sponsors, by pointing out that they tried to keep Peterson out.
The NFL will argue that they are still gathering materials to review. The NFLPA has a right to four expedited grievances a year, and the CBA spells out that both parties are supposed to work in “good faith” to resolve the grievance as quickly as possible.
The Vikings had earlier released the following statement on the Peterson situation:
In regards to Adrian Peterson’s status with the Minnesota Vikings, at this time his potential reinstatement is under NFL guidelines. As an organization, we respect and understand the league’s process. In the interim, our focus is on the team and preparing for this weekend’s game against the Bears.
As for whether or not Peterson is in game shape, there are conflicting reports of that as well. Jason La Canfora at CBS says that the Vikings “harbor serious concerns” about Adrian Peterson’s physical and mental state. “Peterson … has not been working out nearly to the degree he would have if he were playing.”
This seems harder to believe, and Florio’s sources take the opposite tack, arguing that Peterson is definitely in game shape. Given his history of playing with a light load at training camp and skipping the preseason, it seems like we have more circumstantial evidence that Peterson would be ready to play.
UPDATE: The NFL has responded, per Adam Schefter.
We have received the NFLPA’s grievance on behalf of Adrian Peterson. We have honored our commitment to Mr. Peterson and the NFLPA not to process or impose any discipline until the criminal charges pending in Texas were resolved. When Mr. Peterson decided not to contest criminal charges, we promptly advised both him and the NFLPA that we were prepared to consider what, if any, discipline should now be imposed under the Personal Conduct Policy. We asked Mr. Peterson and his representatives, including the NFLPA, for relevant information. We have not received any of the requested information, but remain prepared to schedule a hearing and make a determination as quickly as possible based on as much information as available.
That the NFL hasn’t received any requested information is a little surprising, even knowing that the records are sealed. They may have to proceed without it, which could be worse for Peterson than better.