AnalysisOff-The-Field Issues

2014 Minnesota Vikings: NFLPA Files on Behalf of Adrian Peterson

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.

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  1. If the NFL wants to take their time…fine. But in the meantime he should be able to play. Period. It isn’t all about the money at this point. If it was in there that he would be taken off the list at the end of the legal stuff…they should stay true to their word. Maybe they should read more carefully next time.

  2. I think it benefits Peterson that no evidence can be obtained, thus the league cannot speculate or use random internet pictures or here say to formulate a punishment. Maybe what Hardin and Peterson admitted to publicly can be used, possibly the league has the option to use what they want but I could see an arbitrator having to give a final ruling at some point if the league overreaches.
    Only fact is he plead no contest and was given probation and a misdemeanor charge. If Goodell wants to levy a lengthy suspension on a parental disciplinary case of this minor nature when the child is perfectly fine and the mother wants Peterson fully involved in the child’s life, Goodell is setting a precedent to be continually ruling on insignificant cases. I understand Goodell has to make a ruling as charges were brought against Peterson, that is his job, but he needs to be consistent with punishments and if he lacks documented evidence stick to the CBA and levy a fair punishment.
    8 games Peterson has been paid for but missed should be taken into consideration. As has been suggested, take 2 or 4 game checks as a fine, time served and move on.

  3. It is hard to believe that the Vikings organization and the league office neither have a plan and a schedule in place, nor have some idea of what they are doing, but, sadly, that seems to actually be the case.

  4. The longer this thing drags on, the more ridiculous the whole charade becomes. The NFL needs to grow a pair and do what they think is right–you’re going to piss someone off no matter what you do, so why prolong the process? The one thing they should consider is the terrible precedent that’s being set: players can be suspended (with pay, but still suspended) while the league “waits for the legal process to play out.” Then, even if they are acquitted or, as in Peterson’s case, they plead no contest to a much lesser charge, the league says “Okay, well we don’t really care about the legal process because we can suspend you anyway based on our own assessment of the situation.” Then why the hell did we all spend 9 weeks waiting for the legal case to be resolved? Peterson is screwed either way! The league wants to pretend like they care about law and order and the sanctity of due process until they don’t get the result they want–then suddenly they’re ready to pull the autonomy card. The “wait until all the facts are in” excuse doesn’t fly in this case, as all of the relevant facts have been known since last summer. As Arif has stated many times, both sides essentially agree about exactly what happened; the issue is whether or not it should be considered a criminal act or a felony. The NFL is being its usual spineless, money grubbing self. Roger Goodell has never been able to make a friggin decision and stand by it, and after the way he screwed the pooch on the Ray Rice case, his waffling has only gotten worse.

    As bizarre as it seems, Peterson could have punched out his fiancee in an elevator and he might already be playing right now (6 games for a first time offender, right?). Obviously, there are other factors involved, the most important factor is that Roger Goodell is a spineless little turd that wants to make himself look good and take popular moral stances as long as it doesn’t cost him anything. I hope it costs him his job, because this league is in desperate need of new leadership.

  5. Essentially what has happened here is that both the league and the Vikings management have been caught with their pants down.They wrongly assumed that this case would drag out until next year as was reported in the media,so neither side seems to have thought much about how to punish Peterson should the case be decided early.Then when Peterson and his legal team changed tack and a deal was done,no plan was in place for any discipline to be handed down.This seems typical of the Goodell style of “management”