Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson has missed eight games since the team suspended him in the wake of child abuse allegations, but now that the legal proceedings are over, the NFL Players Association is calling for his immediate reinstatement, ESPN reported Sunday.
Peterson pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charges in Texas last week after he originally faced felony child abuse charges in September. At the time, the Vikings put Peterson on the commissioner’s exempt list — essentially a paid suspension — under terms of a deal between the league and the players union. According to the ESPN report, the union argued that the deal said that Peterson should be reinstated upon completion of the legal case.
The NFL, however, said this week that Peterson would not be reinstated until after a disciplinary hearing to see if he should be further punished under the league’s personal conduct policy. The NFL has asked Peterson to submit the evidence from his legal case so that an independent expert can review it.
But the NFLPA is arguing that Peterson should be allowed to play while the disciplinary proceeding takes place. NFL players facing potential conduct suspensions are traditionally allowed to practice and play until the NFL reaches a decision on their punishment, and there doesn’t seem to be a good reason for treating Peterson any differently.
Peterson’s placement on the exempt list happened during a time of heightened scrutiny about the NFL, as the charges came while the league was facing criticism for its handling of the Ray Rice domestic violence case (and a domestic violence case involving Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy). Now, it is facing accusations that it is overstepping its bounds in punishing those players. In addition to the NFLPA’s calls for the league to treat Peterson as it would any other player, the union and Rice are also squaring off against the NFL in an arbitration case over whether Rice’s punishment violated the league’s labor agreement.