NFLPA Calls For Peterson's Reinstatement, While NFL Works Quickly On Review
The NFLPA on Friday sent a letter to the NFL "calling for the immediate reinstatement" of Vikings RB Adrian Peterson "per the agreement the sides made" to place him on the commissioner's exempt list in September, according to sources cited by Mortensen & Schefter of ESPN.com. Sources said that the agreement "explicitly states that Peterson would be removed from the list upon resolution of his legal matter." Peterson last week "pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor." If the NFL "declines to comply with the agreement, the NFLPA can then file an expedited non-injury grievance to have Peterson reinstated immediately." The NFL wants Peterson to "submit all evidence from his court case; independent experts to review those documents; independent experts to make a recommendation on discipline; and after that, they want him to meet" with Commissioner Roger Goodell. The league's decision "could be creating a new precedent for the new personal conduct policy." An NFL official said that the agreement was for Peterson to "be on paid leave until the completion of his legal proceeding, at which time the matter would be reviewed for potential discipline under the personal conduct policy." Mortensen & Schefter reported the NFL is "trying to move as quickly as possible" with Peterson's review. The NFLPA's call for reinstatement also "uses the argument that Peterson's personal conduct review should be no different than any other player case" (ESPN.com, 11/9). In Minneapolis, Matt Vensel reports the NFL on Thursday informed Peterson that he "would remain on the commissioner’s exempt list while his case was reviewed" by the league. Meanwhile, a Vikings official yesterday "denied an NFL Network report that said an 'internal battle was brewing'" over Peterson's future with the team. The source added the team is "100 percent unified" and supports Peterson, but is "respecting the process" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 11/10).
WATCH AND LEARN: USA TODAY's Tom Pelissero wrote NFL players "are paying attention to how things shake out, knowing this could be a test case for how the NFL's new, still-under-development personal conduct policy will treat those accused of violent crimes in the wake of the Ray Rice case." Vikings FB Jerome Felton said, "People are definitely going to be watching and be concerned about how it all plays out, because obviously, as long as the court process usually takes -- it could take a year or two years, and so it's hard to be on the shelf when you're trying to defend your innocence." Pelissero noted the "big concern for players and their union arises when the end of the legal process is only the setup for another series of steps on a timeline the NFL controls, particularly if placement on the list becomes involuntary." The NFLPA "has proposed neutral arbitration for all personal conduct matters, but the league believes it can institute changes without collective bargaining" (USATODAY.com, 11/7).
RICE DECISION COMING SOON: In Baltimore, Aaron Wilson cites sources as saying that the third-party arbitrator who presided over Rice's appeal hearing that concluded last Thursday "has informed lawyers to file their briefs by this Thursday with a decision expected to be handed down no later than 10 days afterward." Under that timetable, Rice and the NFL "would know by Nov. 24, at the latest, if his bid for immediate reinstatement has been successful" (Baltimore SUN, 11/10). The N.Y. Daily News’ Mike Lupica said the public may never know what Goodell said during his testimony last week in Rice’s reinstatement hearing, but the commissioner "is finally going to have to explain what he meant when he said that Rice's account of what happened inside the elevator was ’ambiguous.’" Lupica: "We’re going to find out because a lot of people say it wasn't ambiguous. ... The big loser here, depending on what we find out about how Goodell explained himself, is Goodell” (“The Sports Reporters,” ESPN2, 11/9).
IN DEFENSE OF THE ACCUSED: In Philadelphia, Bob Brookover wrote Goodell and the NFL "still have a big mess on their hands because the commissioner was allowed to randomly mete out punishment under the personal conduct policy." That setup "is going to change at some point in the near future." There is "nothing wrong with a personal conduct policy and there is nothing wrong with giving players who have done despicable things a second chance." Rice and Peterson "deserve the same chance." The NFL "should let them return and implement a better, more consistent plan for discipline" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 11/9). In Boston, Alex Reimer writes Goodell had "no problem" allowing players who have committed violent crimes, such as Michael Vick and Donte Stallworth, "back into his good graces." But Goodell is "maintaining a hard line on Rice and Peterson, even though only three of the 11 active players with domestic violence arrests hanging over their heads were suspended for their transgressions." It is a "disingenuous attempt to protect his and the NFL's wounded image" (BOSTON HERALD, 11/10).
WILL EITHER PLAYER COME BACK THIS YEAR? In St. Paul, Tom Powers wrote under the header, "Vikings Should Just Cut Adrian Peterson And Skip The Circus." The Vikings "aren't going to bring back Peterson next year" for $13M, so they should "just get it over with and let him go." Many Minnesotans "were up in arms at the thought of him rejoining the team two months ago." Cutting him -- "quickly -- seems like a no-brainer." The Vikings "will remain on the hook" for his '14 season salary, but if they bring him back, they "likely will lose more than that in corporate sponsorship deals and public goodwill" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 11/9). The Boston Globe’s Bob Ryan said, “I would not be shocked if Peterson winds up in a game somehow, even if it's not with the Vikings. I wouldn't be surprised, but the other thing is it’s still ongoing. I don't know how long it is going to take to adjudicate this." Ryan said there is "no way that Ray Rice is playing any football this year.” ESPN.com's Howard Bryant said, "What’s going to happen to Ray Rice -- whether or not he's banned from playing -- is that he’s going to get essentially the invisible blacklist, where no team is going to want the heat. They’re not going to want the headache” (“The Sports Reporters,” ESPN2, 11/9). The N.Y. DAILY NEWS' Lupica wrote Peterson "will go back to work" before Rice because Peterson "is still a lot more useful to the Vikings than Rice is to almost anybody else." Peterson "is still a star," while Rice "was on his way to being a marginal player, at best, even before" his domestic violence charge. It seems "highly likely that the arbitrator will find in Rice’s favor, just because nothing that happened inside the elevator had changed when Goodell hit him as hard as Rice had hit Janay Palmer Rice," at which point Rice "is eligible to get a job playing pro football again" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 11/9).