Today an independent arbitrator announced his decision to deny NFL star Adrian Peterson’s appeal of his indefinite league suspension. The independent arbitrator, Harold Henderson, a former NFL executive, said that he did not find that any of Peterson’s rights were violated in the process.
Additionally, Henderson concluded that there was uncontested evidence of wrongdoing on the part of Peterson that is in violation of the NFL personal conduct policy. The violation warrants more serious discipline than being placed in Commissioner Exempt status. This was Henderson’s basis for upholding the league’s indefinite suspension.
The NFL Players Association has been outspoken about the league’s inconsistent and unpredictable handling of personal conduct issues in recent months and reacted quickly and strongly to the ruling. In a statement, the NFLPA said, “The NFLPA expected this outcome, given the hearing officer’s relationship and financial ties to the NFL. The decision itself ignores the facts, the evidence and the collective bargaining agreement. This decision also represents the NFL’s repeated failure to adhere to due process and confirms its inconsistent treatment of players. Our union is considering immediate legal remedies.”
This decision is another point of contention between the league and the NFLPA. Earlier this week, the league announced revisions to the personal conduct policy and the NFLPA maintains it was not consulted on the revisions. This action by the NFL could be grounds for an unfair labor practice claim pursued by the NFLPA under the National Labor Relations Act.
Peterson’s problems with the league began when he was charged with reckless or negligent injury to a child after authorities discovered welts on the legs of his four-year old son. The welts were the result of Peterson punishing the child with a thin tree branch (or a “switch”).
As part of a plea bargain deal, Peterson pled “no contest” to misdemeanor reckless assault, a lesser charge, in a Texas court on November 4. The deal allows him to avoid jail time but also led the NFL to suspend the player indefinitely on November 18.
The indefinite suspension means that Peterson will not be eligible to apply for reinstatement to the league until April 15, 2015.
Peterson can, and is expected to, appeal the decision to a U.S. federal court.