In an attempt to get Adrian Peterson reinstated by next Sunday, the NFL Players Association is preparing to file an expedited non-injury grievance early this week, alleging the NFL should have removed Peterson from the commissioner’s exempt list when his legal process wrapped up, sources tell FOX Sports.
The union’s move would be in response to a letter the NFL sent the Minnesota Vikings’ running back last week, stating he would remain on the exempt list while the league reviews his case under the personal-conduct policy. The NFL asked Peterson to produce documents on his case, told him independent experts would review his case and informed him he has a right to a hearing with Commissioner Roger Goodell before discipline is enacted.
A source said the union and Peterson’s camp believe the process the league outlined in the letter to Peterson would take weeks, thus leaving him inactive for several games. (Peterson has been paid the full installments of his $11.75 million salary while on the exempt list.)
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Based on the language of the collective bargaining agreement, an expedited grievance is to be held within seven days of its filing, with the sides expected to "engage in good faith efforts" to wrap up the process by the player’s next game. The Vikings, who are on a bye this week, face the Chicago Bears next Sunday.
Peterson’s situation is unique in that the league usually lets the legal process play out for first-time offenders before taking a player off the field. But Peterson was part of an handful of off-field situations that developed early in the season and resulted in public pressure for the league and the team to do something to quell the controversy. All parties agreed the rarely-used commissioner’s exempt list would allow Peterson and the Carolina Panthers’ Greg Hardy to step out of the spotlight while they handled their legal issues.
The NFLPA and Peterson’s camp claim the terms of the agreement stated he would remain on the exempt list only through the completion of his legal process. Peterson last week pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of reckless assault after initially facing felony child-abuse charges.
FOX Sports has reported Peterson’s camp and the union informed the NFL a plea deal was coming and tried to reach an agreement with the league to reinstate him immediately or at least lay out a process for him to get back on the field in short order. The NFL rejected those advances.
It’s clear the NFL isn’t planning to let Peterson back onto the field without some kind of punishment, though that could bring about another grievance from the union. A source said the union will argue his being taken off the field at all is a form of punishment and therefore time served. The league would likely counter that claim by noting Peterson agreed to go on the exempt list and was paid in full while on it.