Adrian Peterson has been suspended without pay for at least the remainder of the 2014-15 season.
The NFL announced its highly anticipated ruling Tuesday morning, stating that the Minnesota Vikings’ star running back will not be considered for reinstatement before April 15, 2015, for violating the league’s personal conduct policy.
NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith discusses the NFL’s suspension of Adrian Peterson and whether the league and the NFLPA are collaborating to establish domestic violence policy.
The NFL Players Association released a statement later Tuesday morning, announcing that it will appeal Peterson’s suspension because “the discipline imposed is inconsistent.”
Peterson was indicted in September on a felony charge of injury to a child for using a wooden switch to discipline his 4-year-old son earlier this year. But the All-Pro pleaded no contest to a lesser charge of misdemeanor reckless assault Nov. 4, setting the stage for the NFL’s ruling.
The league announced Peterson’s suspension in a lengthy statement, citing “an incident of abusive discipline that he inflicted on his four-year-old son.”
The statement also included excerpts of a letter to Peterson written by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who has required that Peterson undergo counseling and treatment in order to be reinstated.
“We are prepared to put in place a program that can help you to succeed, but no program can succeed without your genuine and continuing engagement,” Goodell wrote in the letter. “You must commit yourself to your counseling and rehabilitative effort, properly care for your children, and have no further violations of law or league policy.”
The Vikings also released a statement, saying they “respect the league’s decision and will have no further comment at this time.”
“You have shown no meaningful remorse for your conduct. When indicted, you acknowledged what you did but said that you would not ‘eliminate whooping my kids’ and defended your conduct in numerous published text messages to the child’s mother. You also said that you felt ‘very confident with my actions because I know my intent.’ These comments raise the serious concern that you do not fully appreciate the seriousness of your conduct, or even worse, that you may feel free to engage in similar conduct in the future.
”- Excerpt from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s letter to Adrian Peterson
Peterson’s case revived a debate about corporal punishment, which is on the decline in the U.S. but still widely practiced in homes and schools. Peterson has repeatedly claimed that he never intended to harm his son and was disciplining him in the same way he had been as a child growing up in East Texas.
Goodell, however, expressed concern in his letter that Peterson does not “fully appreciate the seriousness” of his conduct.
“You have shown no meaningful remorse for your conduct,” Goodell’s letter said. “When indicted, you acknowledged what you did but said that you would not ‘eliminate whooping my kids’ and defended your conduct in numerous published text messages to the child’s mother. You also said that you felt ‘very confident with my actions because I know my intent.’
“These comments raise the serious concern that you do not fully appreciate the seriousness of your conduct, or even worse, that you may feel free to engage in similar conduct in the future.”
The boy suffered cuts, marks and bruising to his thighs, back and on one of his testicles, according to court records. Goodell cited those injuries in his letter to Peterson.
“The difference in size and strength between you and the child is significant, and your actions clearly caused physical injury to the child,” Goodell’s letter said. “While an adult may have a number of options when confronted with abuse — to flee, to fight back, or to seek help from law enforcement — none of those options is realistically available to a four-year old child.
“Further, the injury inflicted on your son includes the emotional and psychological trauma to a young child who suffers criminal physical abuse at the hands of his father.”
Goodell announced Aug. 28 an enhanced crackdown on players involved with domestic violence. The NFL stated Tuesday that Peterson and the union did not provide the league with information that “would be relevant to evaluating Peterson’s conduct.” The league also claimed that Peterson, his representatives and the union would not participate in a disciplinary hearing that had been scheduled for last week.
The union responded with its statement, which cited a “credibility gap” within the NFL’s disciplinary process.
“The decision by the NFL to suspend Adrian Peterson is another example of the credibility gap that exists between the agreements they make and the actions they take,” the NFLPA statement said. “Since Adrian’s legal matter was adjudicated, the NFL has ignored their obligations and attempted to impose a new and arbitrary disciplinary proceeding.
“The facts are that Adrian has asked for a meeting with Roger Goodell, the discipline imposed is inconsistent and an NFL executive told Adrian that his time on the Commissioner’s list would be considered as time served. The NFLPA will appeal this suspension and will demand that a neutral arbitrator oversee the appeal. We call on the NFL Management Council to show our players and our sponsors leadership by committing to collective bargaining so a fair personal conduct policy can be implemented as quickly as possible.”
NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith echoed those sentiments during an interview Tuesday on ESPN Radio’s “Mike & Mike,” accusing the NFL of “making it up as they go along.”
“Our initial reaction is that the process that the NFL has employed since the beginning of the season has been arbitrary, inconsistent and uneven,” Smith said. “You get the feeling that the NFL, over the past few months, has been simply making it up as they go along. That is something that is not in the best interest of the game, the players, or the sponsors.”