Minneapolis, MN (SportsNetwork.com) – A federal judge on Thursday overturned
the appeal ruling against suspended Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian
Peterson was originally charged with reckless or negligent injury to a child
for striking his 4-year-old son with a tree branch in May and was placed
on the commissioner’s exempt list in September. He was then suspended by NFL
commissioner Roger Goodell in November for violating the personal conduct
policy after reaching a plea agreement in Texas and the NFL Players
Association filed an appeal that was upheld by league-appointed arbitrator
Harold Henderson in December.
The NFLPA then filed a federal lawsuit after its appeal was denied and U.S.
District Judge David S. Doty on Thursday granted the union’s motion to have
Henderson’s ruling vacated.
“This is a victory for the rule of law, due process and fairness,” the NFLPA
said Thursday in a statement. “Our collective bargaining agreement has rules
for implementation of the personal conduct policy and when those rules are
violated, our union always stands up to protect our players’ rights. This is
yet another example why neutral arbitration is good for our players, good for
the owners and good for our game.”
Under terms of the NFL suspension, Peterson would have been considered for
reinstatement as of April 15.
When filing its lawsuit, the NFLPA had maintained its stance that the NFL was
“making it up as it goes along,” in reference to the league’s decisions on
suspensions related to the personal conduct policy. The union added that the
harsh punishment came as a result of the league’s new personal conduct policy
and that it should not be applied retroactively in Peterson’s case.
The NFL said the commissioner had the “broad discretion” under the collective
bargaining agreement to impose the enhanced discipline under the new policy.
Doty, however, disagreed with the NFL’s assertion and said Henderson exceeded
his authority in the appeal ruling.
Peterson last played in the Vikings’ season opener Sept. 7. The two-time NFL
rushing champion pleaded no contest to a lesser misdemeanor offense after
working out an agreement with the Montgomery County (Texas) district attorney.
The 2012 NFL MVP avoided jail time and was placed on probation while receiving
a $4,000 fine and an order to perform 80 hours of community service.