Adrian Peterson will not play in the NFL this season after losing his suspension appeal, the NFL's Greg Aiello announced Friday evening. Peterson argued that the NFL backed out of an agreement that he would be reinstated as soon as the running back had resolved his child abuse case. Hearing officer Harold Henderson ruled otherwise.
According to Aiello, Henderson found that "[Peterson] has not demonstrated that the process and procedures surrounding his discipline were not fair and consistent." He added: "[Peterson] was afforded all the protections and rights to which he is entitled, and I find no basis to vacate or reduce the discipline."
The NFL Players Association is expected to file suit in federal court in hopes of getting Peterson reinstated, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. La Canfora believes that the Peterson will have a difficult time being reinstated before the end of the 2014 season, however. With a favorable decision in court, however, Peterson's suspension could be lifted before April 15, the first date he is currently eligible for reinstatement.
Peterson was initially handed a suspension for the rest of the 2014 season and perhaps longer after pleading no contest to a misdemeanor assault charge. He had been sitting on the exempt/commissioner's permission list since Week 2 after being indicted on a felony child abuse charges stemming from the offseason, when he allegedly beat his four-year-old son with a switch and caused lacerations and bruising.
The exempt list amounted to a paid leave of absence. According to Peterson, NFL vice president of football operations Troy Vincent told the running back that his time on the list would count as "time served," and that he wouldn't subjected to the NFL's revamped domestic violence policy.
Henderson's ruling invalidated what Vincent told Peterson on the basis that the league's beefed-up domestic violence policy did "not constitute a change" to the personal conduct policy, but a reinforcement. The policy was implemented in August amid the initial furor over Ray Rice's two-game suspension (before the second video showing Rice punching his then-fiancee was released by TMZ). At the time, the league called the changes "enhanced" punishment.
The NFLPA responded to Henderson's decision, confirming reports that the union would consider further legal recourse and slamming the league for "ignoring the collective bargaining agreement."
Here's the NFLPA's full statement:
The NFLPA expected this outcome, given the hearing officer's relationship and financial ties to the NFL. The decision itself ignores the facts, the evidence and the collective bargaining agreement. This decision also represents the NFL's repeated failure to adhere to due process and confirms its inconsistent treatment of players. Our union is considering immediate legal remedies.
Peterson was not reinstated after his plea, and was instead told to attend a Nov. 15 disciplinary hearing. Rather than face the possibility of punishment, Peterson skipped the meeting, and released a statement calling it "unfair."
"I will not allow the NFL to impose a new process of discipline on me, ignore the CBA, ignore the deal they agreed to with me, and behave without fairness or accountability," Peterson said in a statement that can be read in full on the NFL Players Association website. "The process they are pushing is arbitrary, inconsistent, and contrary to what they agreed to do, and for those reasons, I never agreed to the hearing.
"I'm sorry for all of this, but I can't excuse their refusal to be fair."
Peterson's future is unclear. He is eligible to apply for reinstatement on April 15. If he conforms to the stipulations of his suspension, he should be able to play next season, according to Ian Rapoport.
Though his production has never slowed, he'll head into the 2015 season at 30 years old and coming off a long layoff. The Minnesota Vikings have expressed their support of the running back throughout the ordeal, but they also don't owe the running back any more guaranteed money on his six-year contract. If the organization wanted to cut Peterson for any reason, it could without repercussion.