Adrian Peterson reinstated, but future with Vikings cloudy
MINNEAPOLIS (Reuters) - A federal judge on Thursday overturned the NFL's suspension of Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, who had pleaded no contest to charges of hitting his son with a switch, and sent the case back to the league's ...
MINNEAPOLIS (Reuters) - A federal judge on Thursday overturned the NFL's suspension of Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, who had pleaded no contest to charges of hitting his son with a switch, and sent the case back to the league's arbitration process for resolution.
Despite the ruling, Peterson's future with the Vikings remains unclear.
In a 16-page ruling, U.S. District Court Judge David Doty said National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell acted beyond his authority in November when he suspended Peterson, the league's most valuable player in 2012, until at least April 15.
Doty, siding with the players' union, said the NFL could not retroactively suspend Peterson under a new personal conduct policy announced by Goodell in December for behavior that occurred under the old code.
The ruling basically allows Peterson to return to the Vikings but it was unclear if the Vikings would take him - and his $13 million salary for 2015 - back.
If the Vikings' front office wants him back, they could just retain him or, if they consider his deal too expensive, restructure the contract of the six-time Pro Bowler. The team will be free to trade Peterson once the NFL year begins March 10.
"This is a victory for the rule of law, due process and fairness," DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the NFL Players Association, said in a statement.
Doty's ruling is the latest setback for Goodell, whose indefinite suspension of former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice also was overturned. Rice had knocked out his wife during an argument at a New Jersey casino.
"The court finds no valid basis to distinguish this case from the Rice matter," Doty wrote.
Peterson pleaded no contest in Conroe, Texas, in November to a misdemeanor assault charge for spanking his son with a switch. He was ordered to pay a $4,000 fine and perform community service.
After Peterson's plea, Goodell suspended him until at least April 15. Third-party arbitrator Harold Henderson, a longtime NFL executive, denied Peterson's appeal of the suspension on Dec. 12, leading the players union to file suit.