AnalysisOff-The-Field Issues

2014 Minnesota Vikings: More Adrian Peterson Stuff (Disciplinary Hearing) (UPDATED)

I’m not trying to make this blog the “Adrian Peterson update central” blog, but I haven’t done a very good job keeping up to date here with the rest of the things I want to write about. I’ll fix that. For now, more Adrian Peterson news. All below the jump

UPDATE: Adrian Peterson has responded to the NFL release with a statement of his own, released through the NFLPA:

The report that I backed out of a meeting with the NFL is just not true. When Roger Goodell’s office asked that I attend the “hearing” on Friday, I consulted with my union and learned that this “hearing” was something new and inconsistent with the CBA.  On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of this past week, my union sent emails, letters, and had conversations with his office on my behalf asking about the nature of the hearing, how it was to occur, who would participate, and its purpose. We repeatedly asked them to respond quickly to my questions because I want to cooperate and get back on the field, but they didn’t respond until late Wednesday evening, and even then they didn’t answer important questions about their proposed “hearing.”

After consulting with the union, I told the NFL that I will attend the standard meeting with the Commissioner prior to possible imposition of discipline, as has been the long-term practice under the CBA, but I wouldn’t participate in a newly created and non-collectively bargained pre-discipline “hearing” that would include outside people I don’t know and who would have roles in the process that the NFL wouldn’t disclose.  At this point, I’ve resolved my matter in the criminal court; I’ve worked to make amends for what I’ve done; I’ve missed most of the season, and I stand ready to be candid and forthcoming with Mr. Goodell about what happened. However, I will not allow the NFL to impose a new process of discipline on me, ignore the CBA, ignore the deal they agreed to with me, and behave without fairness or accountability.  The process they are pushing is arbitrary, inconsistent, and contrary to what they agreed to do, and for those reasons, I never agreed to the hearing.

I’m sorry for all of this, but I can’t excuse their refusal to be fair.

Over the course of Saturday, more leaked out about the NFLPA’s decision to this effect, but it’s good to have it all in one place. Adrian and the NFLPA accuse the NFL of being inconsistent and operating outside of the CBA. If that’s the case, we’ll see even more lawyers than we have already, and any breach of that agreement can even go to the National Relations Labor Board.

For what it’s worth, I don’t know which parts do and don’t violate the CBA. The use of outside experts to help determine the nature of the discipline and also the likely nature of the questions he would be required to answer may be new, but I’m not sure the language of the CBA would prohibit that. If it is the NFLPA’s contention that the outside experts’ inclusion would have to be explicitly written into the CBA, I’m not sure they are protected. Still, a process like this almost begs to include provisions like a mutual agreement (just as the arbitrator is mutually agreed upon, and can be fired at any time by either side for any reason). It might be the lack of NFLPA control over the experts involved that may give them the kind of legal ground they need to challenge the NFL’s process.

That the NFL never responded to questions about the hearing is out of line, however, regardless of what’s in the CBA regarding outside experts. I do not know how this hearing differs from the “standard” pre-discipline hearings aside from who it includes, but it sounds like both the NFLPA and the NFL expect another hearing that better fits what the “standard” is in regards to punishment.

Original story below:

Adrian Peterson was scheduled to have a disciplinary hearing with the NFL Friday and he declined to attend, per Adam Schefter. He wrote the following on his Facebook page:

Vikings RB Adrian Peterson declined to appear Friday at a scheduled disciplinary hearing with NFL despite agreeing to meeting earlier last week, per an NFL official.

The NFL also charged that Peterson would not give the NFL an alternative date for the disciplinary hearing in connection to his violation of law in an incident of family violence.

This is a different, more significant hearing than the conference call set for 2 p.m. Monday, about when Peterson’s grievance relating to remaining on the commissioner’s exempt list will be heard. The Friday meeting was the one that would have been for a disciplinary decision on Peterson’s past and future.

The Friday meeting initially was scheduled last Tuesday, but the NFLPA told the league on Thursday that it was unavailable that day, per league official.

“We informed the union that we were unwilling to postpone the hearing beyond this week given that the player and union had both expressed a strong desire to resolve this matter as soon as possible and we had been given no meaningful reason why Adrian and the union could not appear and participate,” said a league official. “We offered other alternatives for this week, but those also were not acceptable. We also have yet to receive more than cursory materials in response to our requests for information on the case. Accordingly, we went forward with the review on Friday as scheduled.

“We had hoped that Adrian would take advantage of his opportunity to be heard and present whatever information he believes should be considered before a decision on discipline, counseling and services is made. Because he and the NFLPA elected not to do so, we will have to address this based on the information currently available to us.”

NFLPA spoksperson George Atallah said Peterson’s attorney Rusty Hardin provided the NFL with a letter saying it is against Texas state law to give the NFL the requested documents. The NFLPA also said it made Peterson’s clinician available to the NFL.

“The League office seems more focused on creating an arbitrary disciplinary process for Adrian instead of honoring a signed agreement to remove him from the Commissioner’s list,” Atallah emailed Saturday. “They are simply making stuff up as they go along. They should commit their efforts to meeting us at the table to collectively bargain a new personal conduct policy.

Further, tweets from Mike Freeman clarified the situation.

Given Peter King’s tweet from last night:

More interesting is the fact that the NFLPA says they never agreed to the meeting:

All of this today amount to bad signs for Adrian Peterson (poor phrasing of King’s tweet aside). The hearing he chose not to attend Friday is a disciplinary hearing, not one regarding his current battle over his spot on the exempt list. The NFL attempted to schedule the hearing multiple times and Peterson agreed to an earlier hearing, but turned this one down—probably under advisement. Per Tom Pelissero, that advisement was the result of having unanswered questions about the process.

Among other things, Peterson’s side did not feel the league had clearly answered questions about the role of outside experts in the hearing, and the league wouldn’t postpone the hearing

Regardless, this means the NFL gets to choose which information it will rely on in order to make its judgement. Even though court records are sealed, there are a number of ways to provide the NFL with information it needs to make a decision—much of it prior to the bargain—and the fact that they talked with the child’s doctor means they have some information regarding the extent of the child’s injuries (in conjunction with experts).

At any rate, the NFL needs to make a decision, and that decision needs to be made with the information they have. It sounds like that information is not particularly helpful for Peterson and he may get hit with quite the punishment. National writers seem to think the league is leaning against Peterson, and there’s more of a PR upside to punishing him than being lenient with him despite his situation, having sat out a number of games on what amounts to paid leave.

The NFLPA is currently negotiating to have time spent on the exempt list count towards punishment (as “time served”) but haven’t really opened discussion with the NFL. If anything, any ground made in that negotiation would not affect the Adrian Peterson case, though could affect the Greg Hardy case. Expect Peterson’s punishment to potentially take him out for the year or only give him around two games to play in. The NFLPA is in part refusing to work with the NFL here in order to strengthen their negotiating position—which may hurt Peterson in the short run but help the union and the players as a collective in the long run.

Though the NFLPA will have grounds to oppose any decision the NFL makes because the NFL may lack critical information, it is unlikely they would win any sort of appeal given the broad discretion they allowed the commissioner with the personal conduct policy in negotiating the new CBA.

It also sounds like there will be some sort of decision made in conjunction with counseling—which means he may get a deal similar to Mike Priefer’s, where he will receive a suspension that can be shortened as a result of time spent in counseling regarding appropriate ways to treat children.

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  1. The NFLPA refused to show up at the NFLs farce meeting because the discipline isn’t going to be announced until there are 6 games left. The PA might as well appeal now.. The NFL should have made some handshake deals sooner. Adrian should have been told if he messes around after his court case is resolved he’s going to get black balled. Dowse the flames with some actual hardball tactics. Right now they’re just fanning the press. It isn’t good for the leagues image. No one is winning but the news outlets.

  2. Sounds to me like Peterson is going to be a sacrificial lamb for the NFLPA,and the league is more concerned with keeping sponsors and TV networks on side as we get closer to playoffs and big money advertising contracts are being signed for Superbowl slots.
    Adrian Peterson is screwed and I don’t expect to see him on the field this season.

  3. I believe AP’s immediate playing future is in the hands of the arbitrator at this juncture. If he rules AP’s “crime” and no contest plea in association with the agreed upon terms of the commissioners exemption list of immediate reinstatement once court proceedings end requires AP to be immediately reinstated then that’s what will happen.
    This makes for a very interesting upcoming week and showdown between the NFL front office, NFLPA and Vikings ownership.
    I see a few possible outcomes.
    Arbitrator rules Monday AP must be immediately reinstated based on terms of exemption list. AP is reinstated and league front office immediately hands down a suspension of four to six games.
    NFLPA immediately appeals the suspension based on it being inconsistent and to severe compared to other personal conduct situations and rulings. This allows AP to be available to play until appeal hearing is completed.
    Vikings ownerships worst nightmare has resurfaced. Now they must decided to activate AP for the Packers game or leave him deactivated, which will permanently ruin their relationship with AP and end any chance of AP ever playing for the Vikings. Ownership could activate AP and due to the recent national attention the situation and report has created with the current proceedings playing out in public, they face public and sponsership outcry of negativity for playing a player before discipline can be determined.
    Possibly the public and sponsorship response won’t be as bad as it was in early Sept.
    I as a Viking fan hope AP plays. I’ll admit first and foremost to give my favorite team the best chance to win. Secondly because I believe AP has missed enough time away from his occupation, paid or not does not matter, he can an likely will be fined at a later date. He also has lost endorsements and been publicly humiliated through the process. It’s time for all parties to move on from this.

    1. wow, sure didn’t expect that. guess i’ll hafta wait until the last game of the year