Tuesday, November 18, 2014

AP gone.

After bungling the Ray Rice domestic abuse case, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was under a lot of scrunity regarding the Adrian Peterson child endangerment saga.

This morning, Goodell lowered the boom.

Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was notified Tuesday morning that he has been suspended without pay for at least the remainder of the 2014 season by the NFL.

He has three days to appeal, per the most recent collective bargaining agreement. Peterson won't wait that long, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. Peterson will remain on the 'Commisioner's/exempt' list during his appeal process and will be paid, per the NFL.

It's hard to imagine that Peterson will get anywhere in the appeals process, given that the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NFL and the NFL Players Association affords the Commissioner the latitude to mete out punishment as he sees fit.

There's been myriad reactions to Goodell's decision, including the rationale that Peterson would not have received as harsh a penalty had the Rice incident never occurred. I don't know if I buy that, but it's impossible to say it wasn't a factor. Regardless, Goodell laid out some very specific reasons as to how he arrived at his decision.

"First, the injury was inflicted on a child who was only four years old. The difference in size and strength between you and this child is significant, and your actions clearly caused physical injury...Second, the repetitive use of a switch in this instance is the functional equivalent of a weapon, particularly in the hands of someone with the strength of an accomplished professional athlete...Third, you have shown no meaningful remorse for your conduct..."

If the suspension stands, Peterson will be eligible to apply for reinstatement April 15. Goodell laid out conditions for that as well.

"The timing of your potential reinstatement will be based on the results of the counseling and treatment program set forth in this decision. Under this two-step approach, the precise length of the suspension will depend on your actions. 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. 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."

If indeed Peterson is reinstated upon his being eligible to apply in five months, his punishment will have amounted to six games without pay and league mandated counseling. That is similar to what Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger received at the beginning of the 2010 season upon being accused of sexual assault (he was never officially charged). So if people want to say that Peterson's punishment is too harsh and a mere overreaction in light of the NFL's ineptitude in the Rice saga, I would argue that it's not unprecedented either. That, and Peterson actually admitted to whipping his son and subsequently plead guilty to a crime (albeit a lesser charge than what was initially brought against him).

The question now is what is Peterson's future with my favorite NFL team? He is still under contract for the next three seasons but at an exorbitant amount of money (in the neighborhood of $17 million per season). It was pretty much a forgone conclusion that Vikings were going to ask Peterson to restructure his contract prior to the 2015 season to allow for some salary cap relief. Now the Vikings have all the leverage if indeed they are open to keeping Peterson, assuming he's reinstated next spring. What is most likely to happen is the Vikings brass will choose to release Peterson (provided there are no trade offers) and absorb a relatively paltry $2.4 million cap hit in 2015. If I had to predict, I say Peterson then ends up with the Seattle Seahawks next year since it's rumored they are looking to part ways with current RB Marshawn Lynch.

I guess it has yet to hit me that perhaps the NFL's best running back is no longer going to be part of my favorite NFL team. But that's secondary to the sentiment that I feel now which is hopefulness that Peterson can one day be the upstanding citizen his children need.



jerrye92002 said...

Wow. I really look at this in quite the opposite fashion. To me, what the guy does off the field matters only insofar as, if criminal and results in his incarceration, prevents him from playing or somehow distracts from his team's performance. I mean, a guy with 7 kids by 4 different women isn't Father of the Year in the role model sense of the term. While the case was being tried, sure, suspend the guy and lose a few games. But once the case is over and the guy is free to play, put him back where he belongs and try to win a few ball games. Isn't that the business you're in? You're never going to win with these nanny-staters, because the minute you give up common sense on one issue, they start hounding you on another.

Brad said...

Commissioner Roger Goodell has essentially been given the power to be judge, jury and executioner, a role which the NFL Players Association agreed to. The Personal Conduct Policy seems rather convoluted in terms of what infractions deserve what kind of punishment but, again, the NFLPA should have focused a little more on that aspect of the Collective Bargain Agreement put in place 3-1/2 years ago.

Since the NFL derives hundreds of millions of dollars from fans via tickets & merchandise as well as lucrative corporate sponsorships, there's a P.R. issue. As with any business, if one of their employees jeopardizes that relationship, swift action is taken.

With all that said, the NFL and Goodell are no more qualified to curb domestic violence than you or I. Their expertise is rooted mainly in how to maintain a lucrative enterprise.

jerrye92002 said...

Good points, but what the NFLPA does is more of a legalistic issue, whereas I'm trying to argue from common sense, which, I should add, is completely lacking in this debate, IMHO. As for the "PR issue," yes, the League has to consider that, but I would argue that the PR problem is driven by a tiny group of professional malcontents who won't be happy, ever, regardless of who did what. They simply seize onto a target, work themselves into high dudgeon about it, and persist until they succeed in their destructive aims. Then they pick ANOTHER target. At some point, somebody (you would think football players would have the spine) needs to just tell these ninnies to shut the up, and then do what is right and reasonable. That would require a PR counteroffensive, and it might be costly, but only in the short run. Sacrificing your best player to please somebody that isn't your audience anyway, that's costly AND stupid.