By Brian Murphy
Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn.
Adrian Peterson’s fate is in the hands of an arbitrator selected by the NFL and Players Association to determine whether Commissioner Roger Goodell can discipline him after the Vikings running back settled his criminal case in Texas.
A hearing is scheduled Monday, ProFootballTalk.com reported Tuesday. A ruling is due by Nov. 22 at the latest, according to the timeline established by the collective bargaining agreement.
Peterson could not be reinstated to Minnesota’s active roster until the Nov. 30 game against the Carolina Panthers, keeping him off the field for at least two more games — Sunday at Chicago and Nov. 23 at home vs. Green Bay — and a total of 10 games this season.
The protocol in the labor agreement is certain, but questions linger in the case of Adrian Peterson v. National Football League:
Who is the arbitrator hearing the case?
Shyam Das will take testimony and review evidence at a hearing, according to PFT. Das is president of the National Academy of Arbitrators, which helps resolve labor disputes throughout North America. He was Major League Baseball’s arbitrator from 1999-2012. MLB fired him shortly after Das overturned a performance- enhancing drug-related suspension for Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers.
What is at issue?The NFL announced last week that it would not reinstate Peterson until reviewing his case for possible discipline under the Personal Conduct Policy.
The Players Association accuses the league of reneging on an agreement to idle Peterson on the Commissioner’s/Exempt list with pay until his child abuse case was adjudicated. Peterson pleaded no contest Nov. 4 to misdemeanor assault in Conroe, Texas, for whipping his 4-year-old son with a switch.
Das will be asked to determine whether the agreement defined reinstatement or whether games Peterson missed while he defended himself in Texas factor into potential discipline.
When will Das rule?
After Monday’s hearing, he has five days to issue a decision, according to the collective bargaining agreement. Das took 23 days to rule in 2012 on the Saints’ bounty scandal, siding with the NFL in determining that Goodell could suspend four New Orleans players who funded cash pools to award teammates for violent hits on opposing players.
Does Das have the final say?Not exactly. Each side has the right to appeal his ruling to an arbitration panel, further delaying the process.
Ultimately, the losing side could take the case to court. Peterson could seek an injunction from a judge to force the NFL to allow him to resume his career while the league decides whether or not to discipline him.
The NFL could seek a court order to uphold its toughened Personal Conduct Policy.
What is at stake? So much for so many: — A maximum of five more gamesthis season for Peterson, whose value as a 29-year-old running back with three years and $46 million remaining on his contract is plummeting.
— Goodell’s authority to deliberate a criminal plea involving a 4-year-old child amid heightened scrutiny the league faces after his bungled handling of the Ray Rice domestic abuse scandal.
— The Players Association’s power to hold the league accountable and protect the rights of a player who negotiated a misdemeanor conviction and will sit out his ninth straight game this weekend.
— The Vikings getting return on their 2014 investment in a potential hall of famer who could bolster their fledgling playoff chances.
— Or the franchise avoiding a politically charged decision to welcome back an exiled running back whose actions caused a revolt among corporate and charitable partners when the team initially tried to reinstate Peterson.