The Adrian Peterson situation with the NFL is becoming a murky situation. The Peterson camp wanted the issue resolved with his playing status as soon as possible after his court case ended. The Vikings running back took a plea deal of no contest to one count of misdemeanor reckless assault in the case involving his young son. However, as the NFL set up a meeting to resolve Peterson’s status, the Peterson camp stated that the ALL Pro runner would not be appearing before Commissioner Goodell and his team of outside experts.
This is all very confusing of course. First Peterson wants to be reinstated by Goodell so he can get back to playing football. Then he refuses to take part in a meeting that could make that happen. It sounds crazy on the surface, but Peterson isn’t walking into this thing blindly. He certainly has a team of lawyers advising him about the right moves to make here. He may be the best running back in the NFL, but he is certainly not a pro at dealing with legal situations like this that could damage his career further.
The union is making a push for some better defined guidelines in this case also. They apparently feel like the NFL is “making up stuff as they go along.” And that is actually correct. Ever since domestic violence became the hottest hot button issue ever in the NFL, the league has been scrambling to change the way they deal with these cases. And to be honest they don’t know up from down. If the league makes a wrong move, they hurt their public image even further. If they are too aggressive, they could break some labor laws and get sued possibly. The NFL also has to deal with its union.
The league has consistently steamrolled this player union that is the weakest in the world of sports, but they do have to operate within some of the guidelines to keep up appearances I suppose. Peterson has a simple and logical argument in regards to the hearing that Roger Goodell mandated for him. This type of hearing was not agreed to by the NFLPA, so Peterson decided it was a bad idea for him to attend such a meeting after consulting with his union reps.
Peterson released a statement laying out his reasons for skipping the meeting with Goodell:
The report that I backed out of a meeting with the NFL is just not true. When Roger Goodell’s office asked that I attend the “hearing” on Friday, I consulted with my union and learned that this “hearing” was something new and inconsistent with the CBA. On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of this past week, my union sent emails, letters, and had conversations with his office on my behalf asking about the nature of the hearing, how it was to occur, who would participate, and its purpose. We repeatedly asked them to respond quickly to my questions because I want to cooperate and get back on the field, but they didn’t respond until late Wednesday evening, and even then they didn’t answer important questions about their proposed “hearing.”
After consulting with the union, I told the NFL that I will attend the standard meeting with the Commissioner prior to possible imposition of discipline, as has been the long-term practice under the CBA, but I wouldn’t participate in a newly created and non-collectively bargained pre-discipline “hearing” that would include outside people I don’t know and who would have roles in the process that the NFL wouldn’t disclose. At this point, I’ve resolved my matter in the criminal court; I’ve worked to make amends for what I’ve done; I’ve missed most of the season, and I stand ready to be candid and forthcoming with Mr. Goodell about what happened. However, I will not allow the NFL to impose a new process of discipline on me, ignore the CBA, ignore the deal they agreed to with me, and behave without fairness or accountability. The process they are pushing is arbitrary, inconsistent, and contrary to what they agreed to do, and for those reasons, I never agreed to the hearing.
I’m sorry for all of this, but I can’t excuse their refusal to be fair.
Whether you agree with the way Peterson disciplined his child or not is a separate issue. He handled that matter in a court of law, which is the higher law in the land than Mr. Goodell’s “courtroom”. It is totally logical for Peterson to want the treatment that is laid out in the collective bargaining agreement that he signed. The NFL had to change up their personal conduct policy in light of the awful domestic abuse cases from earlier in the season. However, they can’t just do whatever the hell they want…no matter what Roger Goodell thinks.
Peterson can’t fight such a battle with Goodell or the NFL on his own. As slimy as lawyers are, they are helpful in cases like this. Same goes for unions. The little guy in this case, a physical beast of an athlete, needs a stronger group to fight for his rights as an NFL football player. The league is trying to handle all these cases as best they can and has involved outside experts. But the players are not going to just roll over when they feel they are being dealt with unfairly.
A better personal conduct policy should have been in place long ago that considered domestic violence in the NFL. That was not the case however, so we are left with an ever changing mess as the NFL tries to get it right. The league can’t just trample all over the players’ rights as they do so. Peterson went too far in his discipline of his child. The NFL has to be careful they don’t do the same thing with their discipline. Each case is unique and needs careful consideration.