N.F.L. Suspends Adrian Peterson For Remainder Of Season

Adrian Peterson

Despite entering into a plea deal on the child abuse charges that had been entered against him that includes no admission that there was abuse involved, and the intervention of the N.F.L. Players Association, the National Football League has announced that Minnesota Vikings Running Back Adrian Peterson will remain suspended for the remainder of the season, in no small part due to his alleged failure to comply with requirements that he meet with a therapist selected by the league:

The NFL Players Association released a statement later Tuesday morning, announcing that it will appeal Peterson’s suspension because “the discipline imposed is inconsistent.”

Peterson was indicted in September on a felony charge of injury to a child for using a wooden switch to discipline his 4-year-old son earlier this year. But the All-Pro pleaded no contest to a lesser charge of misdemeanor reckless assault earlier this month, setting the stage for the NFL’s ruling.

The league announced Peterson’s suspension in a lengthy statement, citing “an incident of abusive discipline that he inflicted on his four-year-old son.”

The statement also included excerpts of a letter to Peterson written by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who has required that Peterson undergoes counseling and treatment in order to be reinstated.

“We are prepared to put in place a program that can help you to succeed, but no program can succeed without your genuine and continuing engagement,” Goodell wrote in the letter. “You must commit yourself to your counseling and rehabilitative effort, properly care for your children, and have no further violations of law or league policy.”

Peterson’s case revived a debate about corporal punishment, which is on the decline in the U.S. but still widely practiced in homes and schools. Peterson has repeatedly claimed that he never intended to harm his son and was disciplining him in the same way he had been as a child growing up in East Texas.

Goodell, however, expressed concern in his letter that Peterson does not “fully appreciate the seriousness of your conduct.”

“You have shown no meaningful remorse for your conduct,” Goodell’s letter said. “When indicted, you acknowledged what you did but said that you would not ‘eliminate whooping my kids’ and defended your conduct in numerous published text messages to the child’s mother. You also said that you felt ‘very confident with my actions because I know my intent.’

“These comments raise the serious concern that you do not fully appreciate the seriousness of your conduct, or even worse, that you may feel free to engage in similar conduct in the future.”

The boy suffered cuts, marks and bruising to his thighs, back and on one of his testicles, according to court records. Goodell cited those injuries in his letter to Peterson.

“The difference in size and strength between you and the child is significant, and your actions clearly caused physical injury to the child,” Goodell’s letter said. “While an adult may have a number of options when confronted with abuse — to flee, to fight back, or to seek help from law enforcement — none of those options is realistically available to a four-year old child.

“Further, the injury inflicted on your son includes the emotional and psychological trauma to a young child who suffers criminal physical abuse at the hands of his father.”

The NFL stated that Peterson and the union did not provide the league with information that “would be relevant to evaluating Peterson’s conduct.” The league also claimed that Peterson, his representatives and the union would not participate in a disciplinary hearing that had been scheduled for last week.

The Washington Post’s Sally Jenkins offered further details via Twitter:

And NBC Sports’ Aaron Gleeman had this observation:

Some have noted that what we’re looking at here is really a turf battle between the league and the Players Association over the proper scope of the NFL’s disciplinary authority, especially in the wake of the Ray Rice fiasco. To a large degree, that appears to be correct but at the same time the agreement between the NFL and NFLPA does require Peterson to submit to examination by league mandated therapists or conditions in these types of cases.

In any case, the decision will apparently be appealed so this is likely not over quite yet.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    It is good to be the King, right Roger?

  2. Tyrell says:

    It certainly appears that this is the Commissioner reacting to all of the criticism from the Ray Rice flap. So Adrian has to take the fall. The Commissioner also changed the rules in the middle of the game .

  3. DrDaveT says:

    “The intervention of the NFL Players’ Association” and $1.50 might get you a (small) cup of coffee. If the NFL had a real union instead of the cardboard mockup they’re stuck with, this kind of thing wouldn’t be possible.

    I have no problem with Mr. Peterson facing criminal and/or civil charges for any child abuse he may have committed. I have a huge problem with his employer’s men’s club telling his employer to impose a harsh penalty on the basis of allegations and PR considerations.