League, union in conflict on Peterson case

BY foxsports • November 15, 2014

MINNEAPOLIS -- Potential discipline for Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson under the NFL personal conduct policy has become more complicated and contentious.

The league said Saturday that Peterson declined to meet about his case Friday, so it proceeded with a review without him. The NFL also said it was unwilling to postpone the hearing beyond this week, citing the NFL Players Association's stated desire to resolve the situation promptly.

Peterson has been on paid leave for two months. He pleaded no contest Nov. 4 to misdemeanor reckless assault in Texas for hitting his 4-year-old son with a wooden switch. The NFLPA has filed an expedited grievance against the NFL to return Peterson to the roster until punishment is determined. That issue will be moderated Monday by an arbitrator.

So while the union has been accusing the league of dragging out the process, the league has fired back.

The NFL said it scheduled the Friday hearing three days in advance for the purpose of reviewing Peterson's case. According to the NFL, it was informed by the union Thursday "without meaningful reason" that it was unavailable to meet.

"We had hoped that Adrian would take advantage of his opportunity to be heard and present whatever information he believes should be considered before a decision on discipline, counseling and services is made," league spokesman Brian McCarthy said. "Because he and the NFLPA elected not to do so, we will have to address this based on the information currently available to us."

The NFL said the union declined alternative proposals for this week. The league also said it has not received "more than cursory materials" in response to requests for information on Peterson's case.

"The League office seems more focused on creating an arbitrary disciplinary process for Adrian instead of honoring a signed agreement to remove him from the Commissioner's list," NFLPA spokesman George Atallah said. "They are simply making stuff up as they go along. They should commit their efforts to meeting us at the table to collectively bargain a new personal conduct policy."

Peterson's case was ordered sealed by the judge after the plea deal was reached, so the league will not have any more access to the court documents than the general public. The Vikings have seven games left, and the NFL's upgraded penalty for players involved in domestic violence calls for a six-game suspension.

That policy was announced by Commissioner Roger Goodell in August. The injuries to Peterson's son occurred in May.

The grievance hearing Monday will be handled by Shyam Das, an arbiter used by the NFL and NFLPA under the collective bargaining agreement reached in 2011. Lawyers representing both sides will discuss the matter via conference call.

Peterson was indicted Sept. 12. He was held out of Minnesota's game on Sept. 14 and placed on the commissioner's exempt list Sept. 16. After his plea freed him from the court system, assuming fulfillment of probation terms, the union demanded in a letter to the league that Peterson be allowed to rejoin the Vikings immediately until any discipline had been determined. But the NFL responded by declaring Peterson would remain on paid leave until the process is completed.