Adrian Peterson's suspension: What you need to know

Adrian Peterson waits in tunnel.
Adrian Peterson before a game, October 27, 2013, at the Metrodome.
Hannah Foslien / Getty Images

The NFL dropped the hammer down Tuesday on Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, suspending him for the entire season over ongoing concerns about domestic abuse tied to his 4-year-old son. Here's what you need to know about the case.

Who is Adrian Peterson?

Peterson has been a running back with the Minnesota Vikings since his rookie season in 2007. He has been the team's star player since then, breaking league and team records for rushing yards. In 2012, Peterson was named NFL Offensive Player of the Year and the league's Most Valuable Player.

The Vikings have been to the playoffs three times during his tenure: In 2008, they lost the wild card playoff game against the Philadelphia Eagles; in 2009, the team lost the conference championship against the New Orleans Saints; and in 2012 lost the wild card playoff against the Green Bay Packers.

The Vikings have also had some dismal seasons during that time, finishing last in their division in 2010, 2011 and 2013. In 2011, their win-loss record was 3-13.

What's his status now?

After being charged with felony child abuse, Peterson was placed on the NFL commissioner's "exempt list," which meant he was barred from the team but still being paid. (See full timeline below).

On Tuesday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced the league would suspend Peterson without pay through the end of the season and make him ineligible to return before April 15, 2015. However, the NFL Players Association immediately appealed the decision and Peterson can be paid during the appeal process.

What will the appeal process entail?

The collective bargaining agreement between the players union and the NFL sets out the rules for how the process will unfold — and has unfolded to this point.

As ESPN legal analyst Roger Cossack explained, "He will ask for an expedited appeal, but the problem is as it stands right now, through the collective bargaining agreement, the person who will decide his appeal is Roger Goodell...[the union] will perhaps bring a lawsuit trying to get a court to interject itself, or get what they would consider to be a neutral arbitrator."

The NFLPA said in a statement Tuesday they "will demand that a neutral arbitrator oversee the appeal."

Roger Goodell
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell talks during a press conference at the Hilton Hotel on September 19, 2014 in New York City.
Elsa/Getty Images

Why did the NFL suspend Peterson?

Goodell cited three reasons for the action: that the victim, Peterson's son, was just 4 years old; that Peterson had used a switch to discipline the boy; and because Goodell said he felt Peterson hadn't shown remorse.

USA Today sports editor Mike Foss writes that the punishment is a result of Peterson not cooperating fully with what the NFL wanted. Foss writes:

The NFL reportedly wished to bring in outside experts to participate in Peterson's disciplinary hearing ... a desire that went beyond the standard operating procedure of the league and exists outside of the collective bargaining agreement. ... Peterson refused to go to his hearing, and this punishment is a reflection of that protest.

How does this compare to other punitive actions against players?

In July, Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice was suspended for two games after being arrested for domestic violence. After video was released by TMZ of Rice knocking out his then-fiancé and now wife, the NFL indefinitely suspended Rice. Rice has appealed the decision. The appeal hearing wrapped up on Nov. 6 and Rice is still awaiting the ruling.

Goodell was widely criticized for the leniency of the first suspension and the investigation into the incident. Shortly after Rice's indefinite suspension, Goodell held a press conference promising new personal conduct policies.

Carolina Panthers' Greg Hardy was found guilty in July of assaulting his former girlfriend and threatening to kill her. He was not placed on the exempt list until Sept. 18.

San Francisco 49ers' Ray McDonald was arrested Aug. 31 on felony domestic abuse charges. On Nov. 10, the Santa Clara District Attorney's office said they would not file charges against McDonald, citing insufficient evidence.

Arizona Cardinals' Jonathan Dwyer was arrested on Sept. 17 for domestic violence, and was placed on the non-football injury list by his team.

More on abuse and the NFL

The New York Times reported this week on the special treatment that NFL players have received when it comes to domestic abuse charges.


Sept. 7: Adrian Peterson plays in the season's first game against the St. Louis Rams. The Vikings win 34-6.

Sept. 12: Peterson is indicted in Texas for injuring his 4-year-old son. The Vikings deactivate him and say he won't play Sunday. Peterson is booked and released from a Texas jail on $15,000 bond.

Sept. 15: The Vikings say Peterson will practice with the team and play on Sept. 21. Peterson releases a statement apologizing, saying "I am not a perfect son. I am not a perfect husband. I am not a perfect parent, but I am, without a doubt, not a child abuser." Radisson pulls its sponsorship of the Vikings.

Sept. 16: Castrol Motor Oil, Special Olympics Minnesota and Mylan Inc. sever ties with Peterson, and Twin Cities Nike stores pulled Peterson's jerseys from its shelves. Gov. Mark Dayton says Peterson is an embarrassment who should be suspended from the team.

Sept. 17: Vikings reverse course and bar Peterson from the team while he addresses the child abuse charge. He is placed on the NFL commissioner's "exempt" list, which means he can still be paid. Nike announces it is suspending its sponsorship of Peterson.

Sept. 19: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell holds a press conference saying the NFL intends to implement new personal conduct policies by the Super Bowl. Adrian Peterson is just one of five players involved in high-profile domestic abuse cases at the start of the 2014 season.

The Hennepin County Attorney's Office said it is seeking a child protection order for Peterson's 4-year-old son. The boy sustained the injury in Texas, but also lives in Minnesota.

Joseph Patterson, who was charged in the 2013 killing of a 2 year-old son of Peterson, is released on $2 million bond. Patterson was dating the child's mother at the time of the child's death.

Oct. 8: Peterson is arraigned in Texas and a Dec. 1 trial date is set. During his court appearance, prosecutors tell the judge that Peterson admitted he "smoked a little weed" while out on bond.

Oct. 9: Texas prosecutors file a motion to revoke his bond after his weed smoking admission. No decision can be made until after a hearing on whether the judge in the case should be removed, as prosecutors have requested.

Oct. 22: The prosecution request to remove the judge handling the felony child abuse case is denied.

Nov. 4: Peterson pleads no contest to a misdemeanor charge of reckless assault as part of a plea agreement to avoid jail time. A no contest plea isn't an admission of guilt but is treated as such for sentencing.

"If convicted of felony child abuse, he could have faced up to two years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Instead, he received what is essentially probation, was fined $4,000 and must complete parenting classes and perform 80 hours of community service," the AP reported.

Nov. 5: The mother of Peterson's son says she supports the plea deal.

Nov. 6: NFL says Peterson will have to wait for the league to complete its formal review process. Nike confirms it has severed its relationship with Peterson.

Nov. 18 The NFL suspends Peterson without pay for the rest of the season and will not be eligible to return before April 15, 2015. However, the players union immediately appeals the decision and Peterson can be paid during the appeal process.

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