After an agonizingly stupid waiting game, the NFL announced that arbitrator Harold Henderson has denied Adrian Peterson’s appeal against the severity of the NFL suspension regarding his incident, which means his suspension is upheld. The suspension is
for at least six games will continue into the next season, starting immediately—meaning he will miss at least three weeks to start the 2015 season though right now is technically suspended indefinite ly.
In April he will be able to
reduce his suspension from indefinite to merely six games (meaning he could be reinstated and play for Week 4 of the 2015 NFL season) end his suspension. Contrary to previous reports, the suspension is for the remainder of the season, not six games. He will need to prove some degree of remorse and complete or make significant progress in parental counseling in order to be reinstated. Peterson will retroactively serve the six-game suspension by paying back the three game checks for the games he was on the Exempt List during his appeal after the ruling, per Ed Werder of ESPN.
From Harold Henderson, via the NFL’s spokesperson, Greg Aiello: “I conclude that the player has not demonstrated that the process and procedures surrounding his discipline were not fair and consistent. He was afforded all the protections and rights to which he is entitled, and I find no basis to vacate or reduce the discipline.”
This means he found the process by which Adrian Peterson was suspended to be fair within the constraints of the Comprehensive Bargaining Agreement.
In full, his conclusion reads (emphasis mine):
The facts in this appeal are uncontested. The player entered a plea which effectively admitted guilt to a criminal charge of child abuse, after inflicting serious injuries to his four-year old son in the course of administering discipline. No direct evidence of the beating was entered in the record here, but numerous court documents, investigative reports, photographs and news reports, all accepted into evidence without objection, make it clear that Mr. Peterson’s conduct was egregious and aggravated as those terms are used in the Policy, and merits substantial discipline. His public comments do not reflect remorse or appreication for the seriousness of his actions and their impact on his family, community, fans and the NFL, although at the close of the hearing he said he has learned from his mistake, he regrets that it happened and it will never happen again. I reject the argument that placement in the Commissioner Exempt status is discipline. I conclude that the player has not demonstrated that the process and procedures surrounding his discipline were not fair and consistent; he was afforded all the protections and rights to which he is entitled, and I find no basis to vacate or reduce the discipline.
For the entire PDF of his decision, click here.
This isn’t a surprise. The NFL’s bylaws were written in a way that affords the NFL a significant amount of power over its employees and a reading of the NFLPA’s response was not compelling given what we know of NFL rules. Though it is grossly unfair to impose an expectation of “remorse” during a pending legal case, the finding of remorse allows the NFL to say it found an “aggravating circumstance” that gives them the ability to implement a particularly harsh punishment.
The NFLPA is expected to take this outside of the constraints of their labor agreement and bring it to federal court.
The NFLPA won’t be surprised by the decision either. Expect a suit to be filed in a federal court soon seeking Peterson”s reinstatement
— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) December 12, 2014
The NFLPA released this statement:
The NFLPA expected this outcome, given the hearing officer’s relationship and financial ties to the NFL. The decision itself ignores the facts, the evidence and the collective bargaining agreement. This decision also represents the NFL’s repeated failure to adhere to due process and confirms its inconsistent treatment of players. Our union is considering immediate legal remedies.
This is going to be fun.
I imagine it is unlikely that the courts will implement an injunction, which means Adrian Peterson’s suspension will begin immediately instead of being further delayed. The legal avenue could potentially take longer than Adrian Peterson’s suspension, which means the NFLPA is fighting to preserve the broad rights of their players instead of Adrian Peterson specifically.
The NFL is committed to sending the signal of a tougher Personal Conduct Policy, though recent changes in the policy to immediately suspend players with pay upon accusation are probably anti-competitive and a bad idea. Regardless, it’s a good thing that more clear guidelines are being put in place, so long as the NFL sticks to one set of guidelines for more than one calendar year at a time.
According to Sid Hartman at the Star Tribune, the Vikings are seeking to reduce Adrian Peterson’s salary by half and is the major “sticking point” for the Vikings when it comes to Adrian Peterson’s 2015 playtime. I doubt the Vikings will reduce it by that much, but expect some renegotiation to give the Vikings some cap relief, or pending that, a trade.
Before the decision, the Minnesota Vikings had announced the implementation and creation of a domestic violence education program, which Ben Goessling of ESPN reported on earlier today
Program will enlist experts to educate people at all levels of the organization on domestic and sexual violence, and child endangerment.. — Ben Goessling (@GoesslingESPN) December 12, 2014
Program will enlist experts to educate people at all levels of the organization on domestic and sexual violence, and child endangerment.. — Ben Goessling (@GoesslingESPN) December 12, 2014 NFL has ramped up its domestic violence education efforts, but #Vikings‘ new program is believed to be one of the first designed by a team. — Ben Goessling (@GoesslingESPN) December 12, 2014
He wrote about it more in his ESPN piece:
The program, which is expected to start in January, is designed to reach all levels of the organization — from executives to coaches and players — and family members of team employees will be invited to participate as well. The source said the Vikings eventually hope to offer the program to the entire community, partially through local colleges and high schools. The Vikings will consult experts in the areas of domestic violence and child endangerment to measure the program’s effectiveness — and the experts will be looking specifically for a drop in the number of domestic incidents involving team personnel, the source said.
It is good for the Vikings to begin focusing on ways to reduce incidences of domestic violence. That the NFL played the waiting game for this long is not.