Nearly two years after Adrian Peterson's lengthy battle with the NFL and Minnesota Vikings during the 2014 season, the running back is being forced to pay his fine after the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Thursday that Roger Goodell was acting within his rights as commissioner to suspend and punish Peterson for his arrest.
Goodell handed Peterson an indefinite suspension during the 2014 season and a fine equaling six games' worth of pay. While an independent arbitrator affirmed the punishments, a district court threw out the sanctions and allowed Peterson to return to the field for the Vikings.
In the ruling delivered on Thursday, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals said that Goodell acted within the rights given to him by the collective bargaining agreement:
"The Commissioner is the chief executive officer of the NFL," the ruling reads. "Article 46 of the Agreement authorizes the Commissioner to impose discipline for 'conduct detrimental to the integrity of, or public confidence in, the game of professional football.' The standard NFL player contract further acknowledges that the Commissioner has the power 'to fine player in a reasonable amount; to suspend player for a period certain or indefinitely; and/or to terminate this contract.' The Agreement does not define 'conduct detrimental' or prescribe maximum or presumptive punishments for such conduct."
Goodell's authority as a disciplinarian was bolstered by the recent ruling that will force Tom Brady to sit the first four games of the 2016 season and was heightened even more by the decision to enforce his ruling against Peterson. When the Vikings running back won his appeal in February 2015, it was ruled that Goodell retroactively applied rules in the newly created NFL personal conduct policy.
"We are not convinced that the arbitrator exceeded his authority in the manner alleged," the ruling on Thursday read. "The arbitrator concluded that the August 2014 communications did not change the June 2014 Personal Conduct Policy."
The ruling will not force Peterson to serve any more of a suspension, but it does mean the Vikings running back has to pay up:
If Peterson tries to fight against the ruling through the NFL Players Association, his chances of avoiding a fine seem slim:
Next step: NFLPA asks for rehearing en banc from Eighth Circuit. Little good it did Brady though. Longest of long shots.— Daniel Wallach (@WALLACHLEGAL) August 4, 2016
Based on the NFLPA's statement, though, the matter appears to be over.
"Our union pursues all claims because we believe in due process, fundamental fairness and in the spirit of collective bargaining agreements," the statement read. "While the NFLPA disagrees with the decision, we accept this loss. When negotiation or collective bargaining fails to resolve our differences, we will always fight and pursue every recourse for our players' rights."