Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Peterson Poised for Return to Vikings?

Reports are indicating that Adrian Peterson has submitted a plea offer to resolve his criminal case in Texas.  The offer would have Peterson submit a plea of "no contest."  In exchange, prosecutors would recommend a $4,000 fine, a two-year stay, and community service and would remove from any final order any language related to abuse of a child.

As it would pertain strictly to Peterson's eligibility to return to the NFL, the deal, if recommended by prosecutors and accepted by the judge, would permit Peterson to play as soon as the Vikings' next game.  There are other considerations, of course.

From the NFL's perspective, Peterson would be pleading to an offense that is different in form, if not in kind, and, perhaps, substantially enough so to give the NFL PR cover.  The NFL will also recognize that Peterson has sat out eight games already and may view Peterson's transgression of harming a child in the process of attempting to discipline as a less egregious offense than Ray Rice's knocking out of his girlfriend.

If the NFL considers Peterson's transgression to be less malicious than Rice's, it is conceivable that the league will permit Peterson to return to play, subject to the terms of his plea deal in Texas.  The league almost certainly would retroactively suspend Peterson without pay, however, thereby assessing an additional one-half year of pay as penalty for Peterson's conduct.

In addition to the PR issue that the league and the Vikings must weigh in determining whether to permit Peterson to return to the team, Peterson has given the league an additional issue to consider.  After being charged in Texas, Peterson acknowledged to authorities that he had recently "smoked a bit of weed."  That was honest.  It might also have created another problem for Peterson.  If Peterson has already been booked by the league for drug use, he will already have been on probation.  If so, he might face an additional mandatory ban by the league.

If the NFL views Peterson's behavior, on the whole, as detrimental to the image of the league--beyond what his mistreatment of a child does to the league's image--Peterson might be facing not only league suspension for the eight games that he has already missed, but an additional suspension through the end of the season.  If the NFL believes that Peterson has served an appropriate penalty, outside of what he must also serve by way of community service in Texas, the league might consider the matter closed, recover one-half year of pay from Peterson, and permit Peterson to move on with his career.

Answers to all questions likely will be revealed by the end of this week.

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