On Monday, the NFL Players Association filed on behalf of Vikings running back Adrian Peterson a grievance against the league and the team, based on the failure of the NFL to remove Peterson from the Commissioner-Exempt list after his legal case was resolved.
Under Article 43 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, a hearing on the expedited grievance must occur within seven days of its filing. In this case, the hearing will happen by Monday, November 17. The grievance then must be resolved within five days after the hearing.
At the latest, Peterson’s status will be determined by Saturday, November 22 — one day before the Vikings launch a three-game home stand commencing with the Packers.
The grievance could, as a practical matter, be resolved sooner than that. A conference call will happen as soon as Tuesday between the league, the NFLPA, and arbitrator Shyam Das. The arbitrator, who undoubtedly understands that this matter boils down to the interpretation of the September 18 letter agreement that placed Peterson on the Commissioner-Exempt list “until the criminal charges pending against him are adjudicated,” could inform that parties that the hearing will happen this week, and Das could in turn rule quickly — possibly, at the hearing itself.
The letter launching the grievance focuses, as expected, on the argument that the agreement to place Peterson on the Commissioner-Exempt list expired when the legal case was resolved. The league has reneged on that deal by keeping Peterson on the Commissioner-Exempt list pending completion of his personal-conduct policy review.
Regardless of whether the NFL has taken this action to buy time for the team or to secure cover against sponsor, fan, and/or media fallout for letting Peterson return to the field absent the equivalent of a court order, the league has violated the agreement. It shouldn’t take Das very long to figure that out.
Why even have a hearing? Das should ask the NFL a few pointed questions during Tuesday’s conference call. Based on the answers, maybe the right outcome would be an immediate ruling that the league’s violation of the letter agreement is so clear — and that the harm to Peterson from not being reinstated immediately is so irreparable — that reinstatement of Peterson should occur immediately, or at a minimum pending the outcome of the hearing.