NFL: Vikings’ Peterson working to comply with NFL mandates
By Brian MurphySt. Paul Pioneer Press MINNEAPOLIS -- Adrian Peterson is working in Minnesota to maintain joint custody of his 4-year-old son and fulfill NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's conditions for reinstatement. As he waits for a federal judg...
By Brian Murphy
St. Paul Pioneer Press
MINNEAPOLIS - Adrian Peterson is working in Minnesota to maintain joint custody of his 4-year-old son and fulfill NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s conditions for reinstatement.
As he waits for a federal judge to rule on his NFL suspension, the Vikings’ all-time leading rusher continues four months of psychological counseling and parenting supervision in Hennepin County, according to juvenile court records.
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman petitioned Child Protective Services in September to intervene on behalf of the boy, who lives with his mother in the county, after Peterson was indicted on a child abuse charge in Texas.
Peterson is allowed supervised visits with his son. He is barred from using corporal punishment. He also has submitted to parenting evaluations by social workers and a psychologist, court filings show.
“The conditions in that petition are being met,” said Chuck Laszewski, spokesman for the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office.
Peterson hopes his rehabilitation in Minnesota will satisfy Goodell, whose Nov. 18 suspension included behavioral mandates to deter him from whipping any of his children again. Requirements include examinations by a panel of league-appointed physicians to determine his fitness as a parent.
“The well-being of your children is of paramount concern,” Goodell wrote to Peterson when he suspended him for the final six games of the 2014 season.
Peterson and the NFL Players Association are fighting to overturn Goodell’s punishment in U.S. District Court, arguing among other things that the commissioner does not have authority to order players to undergo therapy.
Nevertheless, Peterson argues that the supervision and counseling he is undertaking in Hennepin County are helping rebuild his relationship with his son and should allow him to resume his career.
“He is doing what he’s supposed to do, and we’re hopeful once that has been completed he will be able to go back to playing,” said attorney Emily Cooper, who represents Peterson in Hennepin County.
The NFL, through a spokesman, declined comment on what impact, if any, Peterson’s case in Hennepin County would have on his suspension. Goodell said Peterson cannot apply for reinstatement until April 15.
Peterson’s status with the league and Vikings remains unresolved five months after he was arrested in Texas. He pleaded no contest to misdemeanor reckless assault for whipping his son with a switch during a May visit to his house outside Houston and was sentenced to two years’ probation.
Peterson is required to report monthly to Montgomery County, Texas, probation officials and submit to drug testing as part of 17 conditions he must fulfill to have his conviction expunged from his record.
Peterson admitted during an Oct. 8 pre-trial urinalysis to “smoking a little weed,” prompting Montgomery County District Attorney Brett Ligon to ask the presiding judge to jail Peterson for allegedly violating bond conditions barring him from using drugs.
Results of his drug test were not disclosed, and the prosecutor’s motion was set aside when Peterson negotiated his plea agreement with Ligon on Nov. 4.
He was fined $4,000 and ordered to perform 80 hours of community service, 40 of which Peterson can complete by preparing and performing a public service announcement about child discipline.
Peterson, who turns 30 next month, is under contract with the Vikings next season for $12.75 million, with a salary cap hit of $15.4 million. The 2012 NFL MVP Award winner is the most expensive running back in the NFL, ahead of Philadelphia’s LeSean McCoy ($11.75 million cap hit).
The Vikings have the cap space to retain him. Peterson told ESPN.com in December he did not believe he should have to take a pay cut to return to Minnesota. And coach Mike Zimmer and general manager Rick Spielman have said they want Peterson in their backfield again.
The Vikings, though, are prevented from communicating with their suspended superstar. Moreover, Peterson and the team have to navigate a complicated timeline.
U.S. District Judge David Doty is expected to decide by early March whether to uphold or overturn Goodell’s suspension. The new league year starts March 10, when teams can sign free agents and allocate resources under the salary cap to build their 2015 rosters.
Trading or releasing Peterson would be most beneficial for the Vikings next month. However, his market value might be affected if he is not reinstated until April 15 because most clubs already will have invested in top-tier free agents.
Peterson will not appeal Doty’s ruling if he loses, according to a person with direct knowledge. His fight with Goodell would transition into more of a negotiation for reinstatement.
Peterson’s reconnection with the son he was accused of abusing, and his development as a father of six children, is ongoing.
“It was definitely a learning experience for me, you know, when it comes to discipline, disciplining my kids and, you know, moving forward,” Peterson testified during his appeal hearing with the NFL on Friday.
“Of course, that is something I would never want to happen to any of my kids, ever. Nothing, that’s something that I wouldn’t ever repeat or want that to happen again.
“It’s a situation that will never happen again, and I really regret that it happened.”
The Pioneer Press is a media partner with Forum News Service.