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Greg Hardy won’t be practicing today after all

Greg Hardy AP

It appears a decision on Greg Hardy is coming soon.

On his way into practice, Panthers coach Ron Rivera told multiple reporters that his controversial defensive end would not be practicing today, but didn’t respond to any questions about his status.

Hardy then left the stadium, accompanied by agent Drew Rosenhaus, who said a decision had been made.

Rivera was late coming out to practice, so he was likely inside the team’s facility in a meeting about his franchise-tagged defensive end, who is expected to be dealt with by the league soon for the domestic violence charges against him.

The Panthers have blown back and forth on this one so many times as to induce dizziness.

Hardy played in the opener at Tampa, but was deactivated from last week’s game. On Monday, Rivera said Hardy would practice this week, but no decision had been made about the game.

It appears that decision has been made, though no one expected them to put him out there in prime time against the Steelers anyway.

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Vikings owner: “We made a mistake and we needed to get this right”

Wilf AP

Vikings owner Zygi Wilf admitted today that his team screwed up when it reinstated running back Adrian Peterson on Monday, saying today that he realizes now that a player who is under indictment on a child abuse charge should not be playing.

“We made a mistake and we needed to get this right,” Wilf said. “We embrace our role in the community and the responsibilities that go with it. It is important to always listen to our fans, the community and our sponsors. Our goal is to always make a decision we feel is right for the Minnesota Vikings. And to be clear, we have a strong stance regarding the protection and welfare of children, and we want to be sure we get this right. Adrian will be away from the team and focused on his personal situation. We will support Adrian during this legal and personal process, but we firmly believe this is the right decision.”

After Wilf made that statement, his brother and co-owner Mark Wilf took questions from reporters, and he echoed his brother’s statements.

“Our focus is to get things right,” he said. “We support Adrian on the personal level. He has to get his personal life in order and get things right.”

The Vikings have been widely criticized for initially planning to play Peterson, who has admitted that he injured his son by beating him with a stick. But the Vikings say they take the welfare of children seriously.

“We have a longstanding record of being very supportive of children and youth and it’s something we take very seriously,” Mark Wilf said.

The Vikings only changed their minds after losing at least one sponsor and being strongly criticized by the governor of Minnesota, but the Vikings claim they made the decision to put Peterson on an exempt list and hold him out while his legal matter is ongoing simply because they concluded that it’s the right thing to do. They may never come up with a satisfactory answer for why they delayed in doing the right thing. But their message today is that they believe they’re doing the right thing now.

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New PED policy reinstates only three players (and not Dion Jordan)

Dion Jordan AP

Yes, the NFL and NFLPA finally have worked out a new drug policy.  Yes, players who tested positive in the offseason for stimulants banned under the PED policy will be reinstated.

But the joint announcement from the league and the union identifies only three players to return:  Broncos receiver Wes Welker, Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick, and Rams receiver Stedman Bailey.

So where are all the other players who supposedly were suspended for taking stimulants in the offseason?  Dolphins defensive end Dion Jordan claimed that his four-game suspension came from taking a banned stimulant.  If so, he should be reinstated.

So maybe he didn’t really take a banned stimulant.  Unless he had prior violations of the substance-abuse policy that resulted in a four-game suspension based on the off-season reclassified stimulant violation or unless his positive test came before March 11, Jordan was lying.

UPDATE 11:19 a.m. ET:  Per a league source, Jordan’s positive test came before March 11, which means that his suspension won’t be listed.

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Hardy could land on same exempt list as Peterson

Greg Hardy AP

With the Panthers trying to balance getting the most for their $13.1 million with the ever-building public outcry against players accused of domestic violence, the Vikings may have given owner Jerry Richardson a path through the corn maze.

A league source tells PFT that it’s “possible” Carolina defensive end Greg Hardy will be placed on the same, little-known Exempt/Commissioner’s Permission list until his pending case is resolved.

It would pay Hardy $770,588.23 per week until his case ends, but it would keep him from playing.  And he’d have to agree to it, like Adrian Peterson did, since doing so doesn’t necessarily comply with the terms of the labor deal.

It also would create an incentive for Hardy to resolve the case by striking a deal, even though that would set him up for a suspension without pay under the personal-conduct policy.

Meanwhile, the 49ers continue to show no inclination to do anything with defensive end Ray McDonald other than to let him keep playing.

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NFL and NFLPA have agreed on new drug policy

nfl_u_smithgoodell_jh_600 Getty Images

Well, this is a total coincidence.

The NFL has something positive it would like to announce.

According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, the league and the NFLPA have reached agreement on a new drug policy.

The announcement is expected soon, the NFL needs all the other news they can muster to deflect from the shameful way they’ve done business lately with the Ray Rice, Greg Hardy and Adrian Peterson cases.

Now that the Is are dotted and the Ts are crossed, we can expect several players to be reinstated or have their suspensions reduced, among other changes.

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Peterson’s agent: This is the best possible outcome given the circumstances

Adrian Peterson AP

The Vikings changed their decision about running back Adrian Peterson’s availability following his indictment on charges reckless or negligent injury to a child early on Wednesday morning and placed him on exempt/commissioner’s permission list.

Peterson will not play for the Vikings again until his legal proceedings related to the case have run their course and Peterson’s agent Ben Dogra told the Associated Press that he and his client feel that the current arrangement is best for all involved.

“This is the best possible outcome given the circumstances,” Dogra said. “Adrian understands the gravity of the situation and this enables him to take care of his personal situation. We fully support Adrian and he looks forward to watching his teammates and coaches being successful during his absence.”

Ed Werder of ESPN reported that the NFLPA asked Peterson if he wanted to challenge the team’s decision, but, as Dogra’s comments make clear, Peterson accepted the move to the exempt list. The growing number of sponsors expressing dissatisfaction with the Vikings’ plan to play Peterson made it clear that Peterson wasn’t going to wind up on the field this Sunday and probably not until the case was resolved, which makes settling it as soon as possible the best way for Peterson to return to the football field. His first court date is currently scheduled for October 8 in Houston.

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Goodell “never intended” to hear Ray Rice appeal

Goodell Getty Images

Two years ago, the NFL aggressively defended the ability of Commissioner Roger Goodell to handle the appeal of the suspensions he imposed on the Saints players accused of participating in Gregg Williams’ bounty program.  Eventually, Goodell handed the baton to former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue.  Who overturned the suspensions.

Now, the league won’t be fighting for Goodell’s right to run the Ray Rice appeal party.  According to the league office, Goodell “never intended” to handle Rice’s appeal.

This means that Goodell will grant the NFLPA’s request that he recuse himself from the appeal.  Which means that someone else will handle it.

Ultimately, Goodell has the right to designate a hearing officer.  For now, a decision hasn’t been made.

It could be someone from the league office.  But the NFLPA has asked for a truly independent arbitrator.

Maybe it should be Tagliabue again.

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Peterson now has clear incentive to get his case resolved quickly

Peterson Getty Images

The Constitution gives all citizens the right to a speedy trial.  Vikings running back Adrian Peterson will want to have his trial today, if possible.

The Vikings, after bungling the situation on Monday and then finding a way out of the weeds late Tuesday, have created for Peterson a situation in which he now has an extreme incentive to resolve the criminal charges pending against him.

Peterson is gone until the legal process is resolved.  So he’ll try to resolve the legal process as soon as he can.

Of course, this now gives prosecutors extreme leverage.  With Peterson hopeful to put this behind him so that he can get back to football, he will be more likely to plead guilty to the current charge or a lesser offense in order to put this situation behind him and to return to the NFL.  While a suspension under the personal-conduct policy surely is looming once the situation ends, the sooner Peterson ends the situation, the sooner he gets suspended and returns to football.

When that happens isn’t known.  Where that happens is even more unknown.  The Vikings’ gross mishandling of the situation on Monday makes it hard to ever bring Peterson back.  It also makes it hard for anyone to bring him in.

Not long ago, the topic du jour focused on Peterson’s reported desire to play for the Cowboys after his time with the Vikings ended.  That seemed speculative and distant and highly unlikely.  It now seems prescient — assuming that the Cowboys would be willing to welcome him to the team.

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Vikings place Adrian Peterson on Exempt/Commissioner’s Permission list, won’t be with team until legal matters are resolved

Minnesota Vikings v St. Louis Rams Getty Images

The Minnesota Vikings have reversed course on Adrian Peterson’s reinstatement to the team and have placed him on the exempt/commissioner’s permission list, which will require Peterson to remain away from all team activities until the resolution of his legal proceedings.

The Vikings released a statement early Wednesday morning that announced their decision regarding Peterson. The pressure was building on the organization after their decision to reinstate Peterson on Monday. Sponsors were beginning to speak up and politicians called for Peterson to remain suspended.

Owners Mark and Zygi Wilf finally elected to alter their decision and found a mechanism to keep Peterson away from the team indefinitely while his legal matters are addressed. The lengthy statement from the team is as follows:

“This has been an ongoing and deliberate process since last Friday’s news. In conversations with the NFL over the last two days, the Vikings advised the League of the team’s decision to revisit the situation regarding Adrian Peterson. In response, the League informed the team of the option to place Adrian on the Exempt/Commissioner’s Permission list, which will require that Adrian remain away from all team activities while allowing him to take care of his personal situation until the legal proceedings are resolved. After giving the situation additional thought, we have decided this is the appropriate course of action for the organization and for Adrian.

“We are always focused on trying to make the right decision as an organization. We embrace our role — and the responsibilities that go with it — as a leader in the community, as a business partner and as an organization that can build bridges with our fans and positively impact this great region. We appreciate and value the input we have received from our fans, our partners and the community.

“While we were trying to make a balanced decision yesterday, after further reflection we have concluded that this resolution is best for the Vikings and for Adrian. We want to be clear: we have a strong stance regarding the protection and welfare of children, and we want to be sure we get this right. At the same time we want to express our support for Adrian and acknowledge his seven-plus years of outstanding commitment to this organization and this community. Adrian emphasized his desire to avoid further distraction to his teammates and coaches while focusing on his current situation; this resolution accomplishes these objectives as well.

“We will support Adrian during this legal and personal process, but we firmly believe and realize this is the right decision. We hope that all of our fans can respect the process that we have gone through to reach this final decision.”

The Vikings did make an admirable move in getting ahead of the story when they deactivated Peterson for last week’s game against the New England Patriots. However, they made a misstep in bringing him back to the team so quickly while this matter hangs over Peterson.

They have now realized their error and corrected it. With Peterson’s first court hearing not scheduled until October 8, it certainly doesn’t appear he’ll be playing for the Vikings again any time in the near future.

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NFL won’t reinstate Rice pending appeal

Rice Getty Images

In most cases, a player’s suspension doesn’t become final until he has exhausted his appeal rights.  In the case of indefinitely suspended running back Ray Rice, that’s not the case.

The NFL contends that Rice remains suspended until his appeal is resolved, or until his suspension ends.

“After the suspension was announced, we said:  Teams have been notified that any contract between a team and Ray Rice will not be approved or take effect until further direction is provided from the commissioner’s office,” the league advised PFT by email.

It means, as a practical matter, that Rice will remain suspended until the appeal ends.  Which means that it’s critical the appeal move forward, as soon as possible.

Of course, even if Rice were reinstated, he’d need to find a team interested in giving him a contract.  That video makes him radioactive, probably for the rest of the season and possibly beyond.  So while he’d potentially have a strong argument in court if he wanted to force the suspension to be lifted while his appeal is processed, that’s likely not the best way to continue his NFL career.

There’s a real chance that his NFL career is over.  But this appeal is about bigger issues than Rice’s career.  It’s about player rights, and it’s about creating a truly independent search for the truth about the league’s shoddy, bungled investigation into the Rice case.

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NFLPA files Ray Rice appeal

Goodell AP

As expected (but a day later than expected), the NFLPA has filed an appeal of the NFL’s indefinite suspension of Ray Rice.

“This action taken by our union is to protect the due process rights of all NFL players,” the NFLPA said in a statement.

“The NFLPA appeal is based on supporting facts that reveal a lack of a fair and impartial process, including the role of the office of the Commissioner of the NFL,” the union added.  “We have asked that a neutral and jointly selected arbitrator hear this case as the Commissioner and his staff will be essential witnesses in the proceeding and thus cannot serve as impartial arbitrators.”

The union is right, on both counts.  Regardless of Rice’s behavior, he has rights.  He has been suspended twice for the same conduct.  The NFL arguably knew or should have known all it needed to know about the details of Rice’s behavior when levying the initial two-game suspension.

The league contends Rice lied about what happened.  The hearing will sort out what he said about what he did, to the team and to the league.  Apart from the testimony from witnesses like Rice, Commissioner Roger Goodell, Ravens G.M. Ozzie Newsome (who has said Rice didn’t lie), and others, the appeal will attack the league’s failure to secure the video of the incident.  If there was any doubt or ambiguity or inconsistency or perceived lie, all the league had to do was get the tape.

“Under governing labor law, an employee cannot be punished twice for the same action when all of the relevant facts were available to the employer at the time of the first punishment,” the union said in its statement.  “The hearing will require a neutral arbitrator to determine what information was available to the NFL and when it was available.”

Amen to that.  At a time when the investigator hired by the NFL isn’t as independent as he could have been, this process will create another avenue for getting to the truth.  By rule, a hearing date must be set within 10 days.

Wouldn’t it be nice to get to the truth?  After eight days of no one from the NFL or a handful of its teams wanting to confront the truth in a variety of cases, this appeal could eventually get to The Truth about the Rice video — and it could end up being far more relevant and useful to determining the future of the league office than a not-so-independent investigation overseen by two of the NFL’s owners who necessarily support the status quo.

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Arian Foster fires back at Anheuser-Busch

Anheuser-Busch InBev Eyes Potential Purchase Of Rival Miller Getty Images

On Tuesday, billion-dollar beer company Anheuser-Busch fired a shot across the bow at the NFL for its current domestic violence problem.  One of the NFL’s employees has fired back.

“We are disappointed and increasingly concerned by the recent incidents that have overshadowed this NFL season,” Anheuser-Busch said in a statement. “We are not yet satisfied with the league’s handling of behaviors that so clearly go against our own company culture and moral code. We have shared our concerns and expectations with the league.”

Texans running back Arian Foster thinks Anheuser-Busch is being a tad hypocritical.

Selling poison on that high horse,” Foster said on Twitter.  “Domestic violence and alcohol damn near synonymous.”

While drinking doesn’t cause domestic violence, the impaired brain function from excessive alcohol consumption can lead to all sorts of problems.  Ray Rice, for example, was reportedly intoxicated on the night he knocked out his then-fiancée, now wife.  (She reportedly was, too.)

The broader point is that the companies that sell alcohol, which leads to a wide array of unfortunate behaviors, may not have the best standing to preach about a “moral code.”  Beer companies simply want to sell as much beer as they can, even if it means that too many people are drinking too much of it.

They tell you to drink responsibly in the fine print.  The overriding message is drink.  And if the drink contributes to a decision to do something you shouldn’t, well, you’re on your own, Sparky.

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Brandon Marshall angry about ESPN profile: “They lied to me”

brandonmarshall AP

ESPN profiled Bears receiver Brandon Marshall on E:60 today, and it was a complex profile worthy of the complex person Marshall is. But Marshall isn’t happy about the way ESPN went about putting his life on display.

Marshall took to Twitter shortly before the profile aired to say that ESPN and reporter Lisa Salters misled him about what the profile would entail.

E:60 is running a piece on me tonight that they lied to me about,” Marshall wrote. “It was suppose to be a story on a camp. They followed me around 2 years ago and at the end put a camera in my face to talk about it and asked nothing [about] the camp or the community weekend. I’m disappointed that ESPN and Lisa Salters continue to try and tell my story in ESPN’s words. Better yet I’m pissed off – beyond disappointed. This is the second time ESPN did this. I trust ESPN to tell my story & they lied to me once again to get my interview .Media exploits & tells thier own stories. Disappoints again. Well I guess I probably should use my coping skills now. Thanks ESPN.”

What’s surprising about the profile, given Marshall’s reaction, is that most people who watched it probably came away from it with a more favorable view of Marshall than they had before. The profile delved into Marshall’s history of domestic violence accusations, as any complete profile of Marshall should — that’s part of his history, part of who he is. But the profile also portrayed Marshall as a man who realized he had a problem, sought mental health treatment, turned his life around and developed a strong and healthy relationship with his wife.

If Ray Rice is the public face of a domestic violence problem in the NFL, then Marshall could be the public face of how a man like Rice could make himself a better man — through hard work, counseling and time. Marshall may not like the way ESPN reported his story, but it was an important story, well told.

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Don’t be surprised if Vikings change course on Peterson

wrong-way-go-back

On Monday, the Vikings were unequivocal about the decision to let running back Adrian Peterson play in Week Three.  In the wake of that decision, the criticism has been unanimous, loud, and growing.

As a result, there’s already talk that the Vikings could change course and not let Peterson play on Sunday.  Don’t be surprised if that happens.

It would be a curious turn of events, an admission that the Vikings got it wrong and an example of an NFL bowing to overwhelming pressure from the media, fans, and sponsors.  But as the saying goes, wisdom often never makes an appearance.

It’s better that wisdom show up late than not at all.

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Senator Al Franken to Vikings: Bench Adrian Peterson

alfranken AP

One of Minnesota’s U.S. Senators has joined the state’s governor in urging the Vikings to deactivate Adrian Peterson.

Shortly after Governor Mark Dayton said the Vikings should not play Peterson while he is under indictment for injuring his son, Senator Al Franken released a statement saying the same.

“It was absolutely heartbreaking to hear about what happened to this child,” Franken said in a statement. “I’m a diehard Vikings fan, and watching the games on Sundays has been one of my favorite things to do since I was a kid. But this is just wrong, and I think the Vikings made the wrong decision here. This is in the hands of law enforcement now, and it must go through the judicial process, but I don’t believe Adrian Peterson should be allowed to play until that happens. A lot of kids look up to these players, and it’s not OK for the Vikings to send the signal that what happened is acceptable. This is bigger than a football game.”

The Vikings initially sat Peterson out of Sunday’s game when he was indicted, but they said on Monday that they would put Peterson back on the field this week. Since then they have lost a corporate sponsor over the Peterson case and been the subject of criticism from a governor and a senator.

So far, the Vikings aren’t backing off their support of Peterson. But at this point last week, the Panthers were supporting Greg Hardy, their defensive end who is accused of a domestic violence incident. By Sunday, the Panthers had decided that they simply couldn’t play Hardy. Don’t be surprised if the Vikings come to the same conclusion in the next five days.

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