NFL appeals arbitrator's ruling in Peterson case
Adrian Peterson, the NFL Players Association and the NFL aren't done in the courts just yet.
The NFL announced it plans an appeal in the Eight Circuit Court of Appeals after U.S. District Court Judge David Doty had vacated an arbitrator's ruling against Peterson and the NFLPA. In an appeal by the NFLPA, Doty ruled Thursday that arbitrator Harold Henderson had overstepped his authority and Peterson was punished by commissioner Roger Goodell under the new personal conduct policy for an incident which occurred before the new policy took effect.
The ruling appeared to have dealt a blow to the NFL's enforcement of its new policy. Peterson was suspended by the league for injuring his 4-year-old son while disciplining the boy with a wooden switch. Peterson is seeking immediate reinstatement with his reinstatement currently subject to review on April 15.
Following Doty's 16-page ruling, the NFL announced it will exercise its right to appeal the decision within the circuit court of appeals. Meanwhile, Peterson will be returned to the commissioner's special exempt list where he spent 10 weeks last season while his legal case was pending. Peterson pleaded no contest to misdemeanor reckless assault and was later suspended for the final six games of last season by Goodell.
"Judge Doty's order did not contain any determinations concerning the fairness of the appeals process under the CBA, including the commissioner's longstanding authority to appoint a designee to act as hearing officer," the NFL announced in a statement. "Even so, we believe strongly that Judge Doty's order is incorrect and fundamentally at odds with well-established legal precedent governing the district court's role in reviewing arbitration decisions. As a result, we have filed a notice of appeal to have the ruling reviewed by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. In the interim, Adrian Peterson will be returned to the Commissioner Exempt List pending further proceedings by appeals officer Harold Henderson or a determination by the Eighth Circuit Court."
Peterson's status remains in question while the league and NFLPA battle through the court system. Since he is back on the exempt list -- and not suspended -- he is allowed to communicate with the Vikings, which he was not allowed to do when he was banned. Also, while on the exempt list he can be traded -- though not until the start of the league year -- and released.
Peterson, 29, still has three years remaining on the contract he signed in 2011 making him the league's highest-paid running back. The Vikings' all-time leading rusher is due $12.75 million in 2015 and would count $15.4 million against the salary cap for Minnesota. If the Vikings were to cut Peterson, he would count as $2.4 million towards the cap in dead money.
"Adrian Peterson is an important member of the Minnesota Vikings, and our focus remains on welcoming him back when he is able to rejoin our organization," the Vikings said Thursday in a statement. "Today's ruling leaves Adrian's status under the control of the NFL, the NFLPA and the legal system, and we will have no further comment at this time."
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