Adrian Peterson has signed a plea of no contest to misdemeanor charges of reckless assault, paving the way for his return to the NFL. The plea was accepted by Montgomery County judge Kelly Case. Peterson was indicted in September on a felony charge of reckless or negligent injury to a child. The indictment stemmed from an incident this past spring when he allegedly beat his 4-year-old son with a switch.
Pro Football Talk reported the details of Peterson's plea bargain Tuesday. By accepting the deal, Peterson will have to go on probation, pay a $4,000 fine and perform 80 hours of community service. The plea reportedly includes no reference to family violence or violence against a minor. The deal also defers a ruling on Peterson's innocence for two years. Peterson forfeits the right to appeal.
Per the conditions of his probation, Peterson will be subjected to random urine tests for two years. He will have no travel restrictions, but will have to meet monthly with a probation officer.
The prosecutor in the case said that the mother of Peterson's son would like Peterson to maintain a relationship with the child.
Adrian Peterson says, "I love my son more than any of you can imagine."— Rochelle Olson (@rochelleolson) November 4, 2014
Peterson was placed on the exempt/commissioner's permission list in September under the pretense that his status with the NFL and Minnesota Vikings would be revisited once his case had been resolved. The list allowed the Vikings to sit Peterson indefinitely with pay, but only after making a special request to commissioner Roger Goodell. Peterson can only be removed at Goodell's discretion.
It's unclear how Goodell will interpret Peterson's plea deal. The running back could be activated from his long leave only to sit under a suspension without pay. He could also theoretically suit up to play Nov. 16 when the Vikings visit the Chicago Bears after their Week 10 bye. Complicating matters is Peterson's reported admission to a court staffer that he "smoked a little weed," which could subject him to further punishment under the league's substance abuse policy.
Personal Conduct Policy
Neither Peterson nor his lawyer had any comment on the running back's status with the league.
Whatever action the league takes will likely be heavily critiqued after an offseason of off-field drama. Peterson's indictment was revealed after the league had absorbed criticism for how it handled the highly publicized domestic violence cases of Ray Rice and Greg Hardy.