Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson's suspension has been overturned by a judge, but the NFL will appeal.
In December, the NFL Players Association filed a 75-page lawsuit on Peterson's behalf against the NFL in U.S. District Court in an attempt to get the suspension overturned. Judge David S. Doty heard arguments in the case on Feb. 6.
The NFL later announced that it will appeal the ruling and have it reviewed by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. In a statement, the league said it believes Doty's ruling "is incorrect and fundamentally at odds with well-established legal precedent governing the district court’s role in reviewing arbitration decisions."
Peterson has not yet been officially reinstated. Judge Doty returned the case to the NFL arbiter who originally made the ruling. Since the NFL is appealing, Peterson will return to the Commissioner's Exempt List for the time being.
NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith issued a statement on Thursday following the judge's ruling:
“This is a victory for the rule of law, due process and fairness. Our collective bargaining agreement has rules for implementation of the personal conduct policy and when those rules are violated, our union always stands up to protect our players' rights. This is yet another example why neutral arbitration is good for our players, good for the owners and good for our game.”
Peterson was suspended indefinitely in November after he pleaded no contest to misdemeanor reckless assault for allegedly hitting his four-year-old son with a switch. The plea came after Peterson was indicted in Texas on charges of child abuse in September, after which he was placed on the Commissioner's Exempt List.
Peterson appealed the NFL's indefinite suspension to an arbitrator appointed by commissioner Roger Goodell, but the appeal was denied on Dec. 12. The running back only played one game in 2014.
Under the terms of the suspension, Peterson would not be reinstated until at least April 15, at which point he would have been required to petition Goodell for reinstatement.
Despite the judge's ruling, Peterson's future with the Vikings remains unclear. Though he is under contract for next season, the three-time first-team All-Pro running back told ESPN he is "still uneasy" about playing in Minnesota in 2015. Peterson's agent reportedly had a dispute with Vikings executive Rob Brzezinski at the NFL combine.
Peterson's father, Nelson Peterson, told the St. Paul Pioneer Press after Doty's ruling that there's "nothing etched in stone" that Peterson won't return to the Vikings, but "things have to work out." He also said that Peterson missing nearly all of the 2014 season was "totally unjustified."
"Going through this process, Adrian will do what’s best for him," Nelson Peterson said. "If it’s best for him to return, he'll return. If not, he’ll not return. … It’s a business. Not only would Adrian have to be open to returning, the Vikings would have to want him back."
- Dan Gartland