NFL running back Adrian Peterson lost his appeal of his indefinite suspension last week when an arbiter picked by the league ruled that there was no evidence that the punishment was retaliatory for Peterson’s use of the collective bargaining agreement processes. That decision will end up in federal court, and it may prove to be yet another embarrassment for commissioner Roger Goodell. Peterson’s attorneys released a tape today of a conversation between their client and NFL exec Troy Vincent in which the latter promises a two-game suspension if Peterson plays along with the league:
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In the conversation, Vincent promises the Minnesota Vikings’ running back a two-game suspension instead of the indefinite ban handed down by Commissioner Roger Goodell six days later.
“It will be two additional games, not time served?” Peterson asks during the conversation.
“No, no, no, no … it won’t … The one this weekend,” Vincent responds. “So really, it’s just next week and you … you … you … you will be back.”
During part of the conversation, Vincent acknowledges the potential for Peterson to gain reinstatement.
“Unless you want a different hearing, you want a proceeding go to another hearing,” Vincent says. “You will be reinstated and back with your club, you know, potentially the … you know, that next week.”
This is significant because the NFL argued, and the arbiter ruled, that the league made no promises at all to Peterson. The player’s argument during the arbitration was that Peterson had chosen to stick with the CBA process and the union rather than deal with the league directly, and that Goodell had taken him out for the year in retaliation. Harold Henderson ruled that there was no evidence of any offer to Peterson and therefore he could not lift the suspension on those grounds.
Did Peterson’s lawyers play this tape for Henderson? If so, it makes his ruling somewhat puzzling. We’re not hearing the whole conversation, of course, and perhaps Vincent was only speculating and adding in caveats that aren’t being broadcast at the moment. From what has been published, though, Peterson’s argument now seems to make a lot more sense.
The NFLPA will file a lawsuit against the league on Peterson’s behalf today, if they have not already done so by the time this post goes live. A federal judge will not be as friendly to Goodell as a hand-picked arbiter, and might find this to be, y’know, evidence. If so, the question of why Goodell still has a job will reach an even higher pitch, and some may be asking why Vincent is still sticking around too. The former defensive back won’t find much trust with players after this audio has emerged, and his value to the league office is going to decline markedly as a result.