NEW YORK: Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was banned for the rest of the 2014 season on Tuesday as NFL chiefs accused the star of showing no remorse for beating his four-year-old son with a tree branch.
National Football League commissioner Roger Goodell said the league will not consider reinstating Peterson before April 15 of next year and ordered him to undergo counseling, therapy and treatment.
The league players’ union said it will appeal and hope to have the case heard by an independent arbitrator. The league, however, has an agreement with the union whereby Goodell would oversee any appeal.
Peterson’s banishment without pay, which would cost him $4.1 million (3.2 million euros), comes as a result of the injuries inflicted on his young son last May. Whipping the boy with a branch led to severe cuts, welts and bruises.
Peterson was charged with reckless or negligent injury to a child in Texas and pleaded no contest to a lesser charge on November 4, avoiding jail time but receiving probation, a $4,000 fine and a requirement to perform 80 hours of community service.
“You have shown no meaningful remorse for your conduct,” Goodell said in an open letter to Peterson.
“When indicted, you acknowledged what you did but said that you would not ‘eliminate whooping my kids’ and defended your conduct in numerous published text messages to the child’s mother.
“You also said that you felt ‘very confident with my actions because I know my intent.’ These comments raise the serious concern that you do not fully appreciate the seriousness of your conduct, or even worse, that you may feel free to engage in similar conduct in the future.”
Peterson, who said his actions with his son were only imposing the sort of discipline he received in his own youth, skipped a hearing with Goodell last week. The two have not met to talk about the matter.
Treatment to tell timeline
The 30-year-old rusher, whose 2,097 yards in 2012 was the second-best one-year total in NFL history, owns the league record for most rushing yards in a game with 296. For his NFL career, Peterson has 10,190 rushing yards and 86 touchdowns.
Barring an appeal win, the length of Peterson’s punishment will depend upon his work with an NFL-mandated treatment counselor from New York, not the one who Peterson said he has been seeing.
“The timing of your potential reinstatement will be based on the results of the counseling and treatment program set forth in this decision,” Goodell told Peterson.
“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.”
Peterson may now have to wait until next July to return to the field.
With Peterson sidelined after the opener, the Vikings are 4-6 this season, sharing last in the NFC North division, three games out of a playoff berth with six games remaining in the campaign.
The Vikings said in a statement: “We respect the league’s decision and will have no further comment at this time.”
Child could not fight, flee
Goodell, criticized for a weak response to domestic abuse in punishing former Baltimore Ravens rusher Ray Rice earlier this year, made it clear he was aware of the victim’s perspective in this case of criminal physical abuse.
“The difference in size and strength between you and the child is significant and your actions clearly caused physical injury to the child,” Goodell said.
“While an adult may have a number of options when confronted with abuse — to flee, to fight back, or to seek help from law enforcement — none of those options is realistically available to a four-year old child.”
The union’s statement called the suspension of Peterson by the NFL “another example of the credibility gap that exists between” NFL agreements and actions.
“The NFLPA will appeal this suspension and will demand that a neutral arbitrator oversee the appeal,” the union said.
The NFL players union said Peterson was told he would be reinstated with time missed as his punishment. Peterson said his agreement to the exempt list move was with that understanding but a grievance on those terms was rejected Tuesday by an arbitrator, keeping Peterson on the exempt list and getting paid rather than potentially reactivated while he plans his appeal. AFP