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.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.
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.
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.