Sunday, July 5, 2015

With a 4-5 record, the Vikings enter their bye week in third place within the NFC North.  Certain aspects (ahem, offensive line) have been disappointing enough that the words “Vikings” and “playoffs” are not mentioned in the same sentence very often these days.  Still, there is a lot to be excited about with the way this team seems to be headed, and certainly plenty of storylines to discuss.

Here is the best from around the internet we could dig up on this week off.  Click the link, read the words, and tell them who sent you:

 

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UPDATE 4: Sponsors care. Nike just terminated their relationship with Adrian Peterson after suspending it on September 17th per multiple media reports. That should give us pause in assuming the NFL will be lenient.

UPDATE 3: Per Ian Rapaport, the NFL will not consider time missed on the exempt list as part of any punishment and that a “suspension looms”

Also, it could take weeks:

Strong language. Seems like a suspension is a near-certainty at this point.

UPDATE: It looks like Mike Florio’s speculation on ProFootballTalk may have had some basis in fact, as Matt Vensel of the Star Tribune wrote that the delay may be coming from the team, as the Vikings are determining whether or not they want Adrian to play for them this year. But I wouldn’t read far too far into it, as the same article indicates that they are still looking from direction from the league on the matter.

UPDATE2: Both Adam Schefter and Ian Rapaport report that Adrian Peterson has been informed that his case will fall under the personal conduct policy, not the domestic violence policy. They also report that the NFL has requested that Adrian provide all relevant information regarding his case and that he has a right to a hearing before they hand a decision down. The NFL will consult with designated experts, and through that consultation will make a decision.

This means we don’t have to worry about the NFLPA pushing back on the definitional problems of using the DV policy or that any precedents set in the DV policy apply. The commissioner has full discretion with regards to the personal conduct policy and can punish how he sees fit, though that doesn’t mean the NFLPA wouldn’t push back. Michael McCann, a sports law expert, speculated that it would be possible to suspend Peterson for games already missed and take those game checks, which would be good news for Peterson’s playing time and fans who want him back, but it seems like that isn’t the direction this is going in.

The NFL is proceeding with extreme caution on this one, and wouldn’t even let Peterson know what the impact of any plea negotiation would be. The more cautious they are, the more likely it is their sensitivity to bad PR leads to a harsher punishment for Peterson.

The NFL has told Peterson that he will remain on the exempt/commissioner’s permission list until they make a decision regarding any punishment from the league.

Note: Further clarification in regards to the DV policy vs. the personal conduct policy—the domestic violence policy falls underneath the personal conduct policy, but the NFL specifically chose not to use wording regarding the DV policy in order to not constrain themselves. That they didn’t inform Peterson his case would fall under the domestic violence policy is perhaps significant in itself. The NFL would probably not hesitate to use or publicize the policy they crafted to shield themselves from criticism.

Original story below:

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Because I’m working with a little less time constructing this week’s power rankings, I’m going to go through this a little bit quicker and skip one set of rankings (the Drive Success Rate rankings). Still, there’s a lot to digest and dissect, so let’s get going. The easiest set of rankings will be the first, as always, and it will just be the simple point differential system, adjusted for opponent.

Below the jump:

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Photo courtesy of Vikings.com

Into the BYE week we move. As a team riding back to back victories where a rookie quarterback led the way in crucial moments. With a 4-5 record, things seem alright in the land of purple. Consider that the team is without their all pro running back, or red zone threat tight end. Consider how poorly the offensive line has played up to this point, and remember the gauntlet of quarterback talent we played in the first half of the season. When you think back to the ups of downs of this season thus far, I think we’re lucky to be 4-5 moving into the off week.

I wanted to take a moment and look back to some of the major talking points prior to the season kick off and see how close, or far from reality we were.

Adrian Peterson has settled to a plea agreement with Montgomery County and has pled “no contest” to one charge of misdemeanor assault, which (as expected) does not contain any reference to family violence or a minor. As a result, the case has been deferred in adjudication for two years, but effectively is resolved—and Peterson’s legal punishment will consist of the maximum fine ($4000), probation and 80 hours of community service.

This had all been reported before the plea was submitted. The biggest question may be about the nature of Fox’s reporting and the wording they chose when they said “acceptable to the NFL” because one can easily read into that and see the NFL providing a lighter punishment than they ordinarily would, especially in light of the time he’s already missed—though that may be specious as he’s been paid for those weeks and likely had full access to the rights and privileges of an NFL player, like access to player development programs and various benefits negotiated by NFLPA.

Further, the NFLPA may be more bothered with fining back game checks instead of future game checks—a process I don’t remember happening in the past. Fining players for work already done (as opposed to the maximum on-field penalty fine of 25%) may be a poor precedent to set and the NFLPA may rather fight that fight in the long run and take a bullet in the short run in representing Peterson.

The CBA tightly controls fine policy and I don’t see a way this gets around that.

Obviously “work already done” is not quite an accurate way to characterize Peterson’s paid absence from the team, but the exempt/commissioner’s position list is unique in the NFL and relatively tough to untangle from a precedent standpoint. Regardless, Peterson drew game checks, which can be construed in whatever world as “earning them”.

I don’t see much changing for Peterson re: short-term on-the-field prospects, but it’s hard to imagine he changes course like this without some indication from the NFL—who Fox said the leak was from before the plea was agreed to—that Peterson would play a substantial amount of time this year.

One interesting note is the concept of a “credited season” for the purposes of the NFL. One must have “full pay status for a total of three or more regular season games,” per the CBA and those on exempt lists, regardless of actual, take-home pay, do not get those games counted towards them. Credited seasons are important because it allows a player to command a higher minimum salary as veterans (a minimum which is determined by year)—something that may be relevant when his career eventually does wind down.

It may also impact his ability to claim credit for this contract year (moving him closer to free agency) if there is a challenge by the Vikings (which I doubt they’d win).

Though I’ve speculated in the past that the actual charge won’t matter to the NFL—Jerome Simpson was never charged with a DUI and never tested positive for alcohol before his three-game suspensions, Ben Roethlisberger never went to trial and Brandon Marshall was suspended (albeit for one game after appeal) for a dropped domestic violence charge—ESPN is indicating that changing the charge to a misdemeanor from a felony may reduce his suspension:

The NFL Players Association expects that the league will punish Peterson as it would any other player determined to be guilty of a misdemeanor, league sources told ESPN’s Ed Werder.

This would be a reversal from the NFL’s previous stance, which was re-established at an owner’s meeting earlier this year:

One area of consensus that was reaffirmed in last week’s league meetings is that violation of workplace rules and personal conduct should not require a conviction, the sources said.

Any facts established in a legal proceeding can be found as a personal conduct violation regardless of the legal outcome. This has been a practice Goodell has exercised in prior cases involving Ben RoethlisbergerBrandon Marshall and Adam “Pacman” Jones.

That is, a misdemeanor conviction should not be treated differently than a felony conviction, as the NFLPA is suggesting. Merely the facts of the case, which have already been established well in the public eye, should play a role. Complicating things, of course, is that there is no trial of record and that the case file is sealed, and has disappeared from the website.

Also relevant may be the fact that in this case, a judgment call is not necessarily as clear. He will likely meet with the commissioner, but as the severity of the act may matter more than the fact of it (corporal punishment isn’t a universal moral wrong, that is), and that many players in the NFL have said they support Peterson (or have implied they hold similar discipline standards for their children). Though there have evidently been reports that some in the locker room may be disgusted with Peterson, it seems like the public face of players in the NFL is supportive.

Greg Aeillo, NFL spokesman, said “We would review the matter, including the court record, and the commissioner would make a determination. We cannot provide a timetable.” In a statement, the Vikings also indicated they have no further comment: “The Vikings are aware of today’s plea agreement involving Adrian Peterson. We will have further comment at the appropriate time”

It will be difficult to review without a court record, but the NFL needs to make a decision before the game against Chicago after the Vikings’ bye week. My guess is that Adrian will at least finish out the year with the team and have at least four games—or the move to a plea deal makes less sense (though a mounting and less winnable case may be reason as well). I also doubt the NFL will see the exempt list as an in-situ punishment, so he should be subject to some level of punishment, though maybe not the 2-6 games that people using the domestic violence policy as a guide may see.

A four-game suspension makes the most sense to me, based off of my wild speculation. See you in Detroit, Adrian.

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