CNN — Minnesota Vikings star running back Adrian Peterson learned Tuesday he will be suspended without pay for the rest of the 2014 NFL season, according to an NFL statement.
He will not be reinstated before April 15 because he violated the league’s personal conduct policy “in an incident of abusive discipline that he inflicted on his four-year-old son last May,” the league said.
Peterson has been on the exempt/commissioner’s permission list — which kept him off the field, with pay — since September after allegations he disciplined his 4-year-old son too harshly with a “switch” or thin stick. Initially charged with felony child abuse, Peterson pleaded no contest to misdemeanor reckless assault this month.
“The timing of your potential reinstatement will be based on the results of the counseling and treatment program set forth in this decision,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a letter to Peterson. “Under this two-step approach, the precise length of the suspension will depend on your actions. We are prepared to put in place a program that can help you to succeed, but no program can succeed without your genuine and continuing engagement.”
His reinstatement also hinges on his rehabilitation, how he cares for his children and whether he commits further violations of the law or league policy, the letter stated.
Peterson will appeal the decision, the NFL Players Association said. The NFLPA further said the discipline imposed on Peterson is “inconsistent” and it will “demand that a neutral arbitrator oversee the appeal.”
A hearing will now be scheduled and Peterson — with the counsel of a lawyer and the NFL Players Association — can present evidence in support of his appeal. He will remain on the commissioner’s exempt list until the appeal has run its course.
Goodell has established a “baseline discipline” of six games without pay for first offenses of assault, battery or domestic violence, but he cited aggravating circumstances in Peterson’s case:
— The child was only 4, and while an adult can flee, fight back or call the police when experiencing abuse, those options aren’t available to a child. In this case, the child also suffered psychological trauma stemming from the “criminal physical abuse at the hands of the father”;
— “The repetitive use of a switch” is tantamount to a weapon in the hands of someone with the strength of a pro athlete;
— Peterson showed “no meaningful remorse” and publicly said he would not “eliminate whooping my kids.” He also sent text messages to the child’s mother defending his actions, which raises concerns that he didn’t understand the seriousness of his conduct and may do it again in the future.
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