Thursday, October 8, 2015

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The news of Adrian Peterson’s indictment will continue to dominate for quite some time.  Still, there are over 60 other players on this team and 15 weeks of football left to be played, so on we move.  This week’s links:


Being the NFL’s best running back does not place Adrian Peterson above the law. It certainly will not gain him any leniency when it comes to the investigative and disciplinarian arms of the NFL.  The court of public opinion won’t hesitate to hang him.  He is not immune to the scorn of his own family and his own children.

That last one, and arguably the most important one, are consequences that might not be fully realized until Peterson’s children are old enough to grasp the idea of forgiveness for themselves.

All the facts are not known. Peterson hasn’t even even addressed the issue, yet.  The legal process is only just beginning, as is the personal conduct review by the NFL and the Vikings.  Still, it seems evident that Adrian Peterson’s legacy has forever changed and irreversible damage has been done.

I’m plenty willing to admit a cultural difference exists between Texas (where Peterson grew up) and Minnesota (where I grew up), and that parenting is an unique challenge that doesn’t come with an instruction manual, but I don’t really care.  As a father of beautiful two and four year old children, you can bet your ass that there would be lawyers (and, perhaps, other things) if anyone ever returned my children to me in the condition described in the police report from this case.

I think what he did was unequivocally wrong and that he has no good excuse for not knowing that, given the events that took place last year when another man beat another one of Peterson’s son to death, and the All Day Foundation’s commitment to Cornerstone and “Breaking the cycle of domestic violence.”

I have pondered in the past about Peterson’s attitude towards off-field trouble and been in favor of punishing him, via benchings and fines, if it meant preventing issues larger than speeding tickets and bar brawls from arising.  Obviously, the punishments that were doled out didn’t do the trick.  I’ve been harsh on him, and other prominent Vikings players, during past instances of off-field turmoil.

I say all of this because what I am about to write might be construed, in the minds of some, as me aligning myself with the crowd sympathetic to Peterson and abusers of children.

I assure you, that is not my intent.

I think the government, the NFL, the team, and the money-spending public should all fairly and justly punish Peterson.  I’m not going to pretend to know what exactly that punishment is, but I’m in favor of just about anything within reason.

However, there are going to be people in each of those groups, and within the Peterson family, that might be inclined to actually help Peterson become a better man and a better father.  If the outrage being expressed by the masses really boils down to the well-being of a young child, then the handling of the punishment and the distribution of support should carry the same priority.

I’m not saying that prison time, or an NFL suspension, or a release from the Vikings are not good options.  I’m saying I don’t know. Only people close to Peterson, those that know him well, can possibly have an idea of what it will take to improve Adrian Peterson as a person.

Many Vikings greats, like Cris Carter and Jared Allen, had to make major changes in their lives before they could be fully respected as football players.  Peterson was already fully respected as a football player, and has lost that respect by most accounts, and has a long ways to go before he earns it back.  It isn’t impossible, though, and for the sake of his children I hope he works his ass off to make it happen.

This stream of thoughts isn’t particularly insightful, and it certainly isn’t well organized, but I’m just as furious and disappointed and conflicted as the rest of you.  I don’t know if Peterson will ever play for the Vikings again, but I do hope that he is able to make peace within his family, even if the healing has to happen over years or decades.

In the end, this is a sad situation, and I really hope it has the best of all possible outcomes.

There are a couple of updates we can add to the Adrian Peterson case that will help contextualize what we can expect from Montgomery County and the NFL in regards to sentencing and suspensions.

Montgomery County held a press conference earlier today. They indicated that the trial will be held in 2015, which is consistent with what we’ve heard from those who have had experience with Texas law as it relates to child injury in other cases. The charge of criminal negligence or reckless injury to a child carries a penalty of up to two years in jail (not the 2-10 year charge reported earlier, because it is a “State Jail felony” instead of the more serious “Felony 2” that was misreported by Michael McCann.

State Jail felonies are typically plead out to probation, and with a powerful and effective lawyer like Rusty Hardin, expect no jail time for Adrian Peterson.

The NFL has decided to review the Adrian Peterson case under the personal conduct policy instead of the newly-minted domestic violence policy. This is probably the case for a few reasons: 1) the domestic violence policy, as written in the memo to owners, is very specific to spousal abuse, with only one passing reference to children, which refers to harsher punishments in the “presence of a child,” and applying that standard to an instance of child injury instead of spousal violence near a child subjects the new policy to a lot of lawyering that the league may not be comfortable with. 2) It grants the league a lot of leeway in doling out the punishment, as there is full league discretion for how many suspensions a player can serve.

Contrary to media reports, the grand jury never no-billed Adrian Peterson, according to Montgomery County. This means any speculation, however little it is worth, based on the understanding of two grand juries us even more useless than  it was.

Peterson’s first court date hasn’t been finalized but it will be within the next couple of weeks. Peterson currently counts against the 53-man roster.

Judd Zulgad has speculated that the Vikings will handle this case much like they did the Chris Cook case and I think the speculation is on-point (it is shared by other beat writers as well):

As far as how the Vikings might proceed, that could get interesting. There is precedent for how the organization acts in such cases. In 2011, former Vikings cornerback Chris Cook was charged with felony strangulation following his October arrest for domestic assault after an incident involving his girlfriend that took place in Eden Prairie.

Cook was suspended for one game before being reinstated to the 53-man roster. Despite the fact that meant Cook was being paid, the team told him to stay away from Winter Park for the remainder of the season. Cook ended up missing the final 10 games.

The collective-bargaining agreement permits an organization to suspend a player for four games for conduct detrimental to the team. If the Vikings wanted to, they could suspend Peterson for the next four games and then reinstate him but not use him.

Cook was found not guilty in a jury trial on all counts in March 2012, meaning the Vikings could discipline Peterson long before any trial date is set in his case in Texas.

Expect a short-term suspension from the Vikings until the NFL acts, with any non-suspension time served away from the team despite a nominal place on the roster. During his team suspension, he would not count against the roster.

If you want to know about the game or fantasy impact of the Peterson news, bang it here.

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In what comes as little surprise, the Vikings have waived their second fullback, Zach Line, in order to add running back Joe Banyard to the roster.

Zach Line is eligible for the practice squad with the old rules, and the Vikings have one exemption spot available to them anyway because only one spot is being used for the “new rules” practice squad that allows players with two vested seasons to be added to the practice squad.

Again, this should not change much about the Vikings’ gameday plans. Zach Line is subject to waivers and teams may be able to claim him.

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