For purposes of this article, I’m going to assume Roger Goodell agrees with my reasoning that Adrian Peterson being on the Exempt/Commissioner’s Permission List qualifies as a suspension due to the definition of Accrued Season.
So with the backdrop of Goodell letting Peterson out of his 8-week Timeout (see what I did there, Peterson? Try it next time...it won’t cost you millions), we have to turn our attention to the Minnesota Vikings.
Just because the NFL lets Peterson suit up doesn’t necessarily mean the Vikings will do the same.
The Vikings are holding the sword of Damocles over Peterson and still have to make the decision to activate him and allow him to play this year, or not. In actuality, it’s the public holding Damocles’ sword over the Vikings.
If you recall, the public already dropped that sword on the Vikings, and the Vikings reacted. Here’s how it all played out:
On September 4, the Grand Jury decided not to indict Peterson for the injuries he inflicted on his child. On September 7, Peterson suited up against the St. Louis Rams.
Before the wheels on the Vikings’ plane touched down in Minneapolis, TMZ released the second Ray Rice video showing him knocking out his then-fiancé. The public went crazy.
About a week prior to TMZ releasing the second Rice video, Goodell drafted a letter to all 32 NFL teams explaining how he got the Rice discipline wrong but will now “do better.” That letter was in direct response from mounting pressure from the public.
After Week 1 (September 7), Peterson practiced on Tuesday and Wednesday but not Thursday. Head coach Mike Zimmer called it a “veteran day off.” That was September 11.
On September 12, Peterson was indicted. Within thirty minutes of being indicted, the Vikings deactivated Peterson for Week 2.
The day after the Vikings’ 30-7 home loss to the Patriots (September 15), Peterson released a statement explaining that he was simply disciplining his child. In less than an hour after Peterson released his statement, the Vikings reinstated Peterson and clarified that with the “extensive information” they have, Peterson “deserves to play while the legal process plays out.” General Manager Rick Spielman stated (after seeing the photos of the child’s injuries), “We feel strongly as an organization this is disciplining a child.”
That same night, Radisson suspended its limited sponsorship of the Vikings “effective immediately.”
The next day (September 16), Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton called Peterson’s actions “a public embarrassment” and called for Peterson to be suspended immediately. That same day, Anheuser-Busch let it be known they were “monitoring” the Vikings’ and Goodell’s decisions regarding Peterson, and Castrol Oil suspended it sponsorship with Peterson.
Remember the Sword of Damocles? It dropped right at 2:00 a.m. on September 17. That’s the exact moment the Vikings place Peterson on the Exempt/Commissioner’s Permission List.
Since placing Peterson on the Exempt/Commissioner’s Permission List, the Vikings have avoided public scrutiny over the Peterson situation. At most, they, along with the rest of the NFL community, have simply monitored the legal process and its results.
Now that the legal process has run its course, Peterson wants off the list and wants on the field. We have yet to hear from Goodell with respect to the league’s decision regarding Peterson’s suspension/fine. But let’s assume Goodell makes it where Peterson could play next week.
Then we have to pull focus on the Vikings brass.
And to be clear, the only way the Vikings can affect any of this is to cut Peterson because, under Article 46, Section 4 of the CBA, any blows delivered by Goodell supersede those of the Vikings—the team and Goodell cannot punish Peterson for the same conduct.
All NFL players’ contracts contains the following stock language: “...if Player has engaged in personal conduct reasonably judge by Club to adversely affect or reflect on Club, then Club may terminate this contract.”
That would be the term of Peterson’s contract the Vikings use to rid themselves of Peterson. The Vikings could use the “adversely affect or reflect” language in the player contract to terminate Peterson’s contract immediately.
One thing is for certain, the Vikings will feel some pressure to keep Peterson off the field. It’s hard to imagine a Minneapolis community accepting a convicted child abuser when they wouldn’t accept an alleged one. The only question is how strong that pressure will be. That will largely depend on the punishment dolled out by Goodell.
The Vikings have shown that they will bend to the community’s will. And they certainly felt the force of community’s will when Nike stopped selling Peterson’s jerseys in Minneapolis stores and the Radisson pulled its partnership with the team.
And then there is the added undercurrent of the Vikings relying on public funds to build their new stadium—that will have an affect on Peterson’s return, as well.
If Goodell suspends Peterson for eight games (six games per the new domestic violence policy, plus two more for the aggravated circumstances of hitting a child repeatedly) and fines Peterson for those eight games, there shouldn’t be much public pressure to keep Peterson off the team. The Vikings should be able to rest on the NFL’s discipline and reinstate Peterson immediately
Peterson could certainly help his cause by putting on a strong public relations case and showing the public what he is doing to become a better parent and how he has learned from this experience. So far, not much has come from his camp.
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