On the field, Vikings running back Adrian Peterson’s career has been defined by collisions. Specifically, collisions he initiates with defenders over which he is running. Off the field, a collision that will define the rest of Peterson’s 2014 season could be happening on Monday.
On one track, the arbitration hearing challenging the league’s decision to keep Peterson on the Commissioner-Exempt list will happen on Monday. A ruling must come by Saturday, one day before the Vikings host the Packers.
Of course, a ruling on the last possible day would make it difficult for the Vikings to integrate Peterson into the game plan, since he will have missed the full week of practice, meetings, etc. And while it should be an easy and quick decision to reinstate Peterson, given the language of the September 2014 agreement that placed Peterson on the Commissioner-Exempt list, the arbitrator’s decision to schedule the hearing on the last possible day allowed under the labor deal has some wondering whether arbitrator Shyam Das will take the full five days.
There’s no reason to think Das would be inclined to do the league office a favor by delaying the reinstatement as long as possible, but the full extent of unusual things happening behind the scenes in the Peterson case (more on that coming in the future, perhaps) invites speculation that other unusual things could be happening behind the scenes, too.
Regardless, Das has until Saturday to make a decision, but there’s no apparent reason to wait that long. And time is clearly of the essence for Peterson, who needs to be able to adequately prepare for Sunday’s game.
On the other track, the NFL has expedited the review of Peterson’s case under the personal conduct policy. Peter King of TheMMQB.com and NBC’s Football Night in America said last night that a ruling could come as soon as Monday. With the league unable to determine that the situation won’t repeat itself and inexplicably believing that Peterson lost nothing by missing nine games because he has received his game checks, a suspension that would sideline Peterson for the rest of the season could happen.
Ultimately, that seems to be the NFL’s desire — to keep Peterson out of football for the rest of the season. They surely thought they’d get there much more easily before Peterson’s lawyer, Rusty Hardin, finagled a December 1 trial date. Even then, the NFL would have needed only to tap the brakes for a few weeks to keep Peterson off the field, if Peterson had been acquitted at a trial starting on December 1. Now that Hardin negotiated a plea bargain that, as of 13 days ago, should have resulted in Peterson’s reinstatement, the NFL has opted first to renege on its agreement with Peterson and now to move quickly to suspend him.
It may not be enough to keep Peterson off the field on Sunday. If the league imposes punishment on Peterson on Monday, he’ll have three days to appeal. If, as he should, Peterson waits until Thursday to request the appeal, the NFL will have three days to conduct the appeal hearing and issue a decision, in order to keep Peterson off the field.
The end result could be that the NFL issues the suspension today (six games would keep him out of action through the rest of the season), Peterson appeals on Thursday, Das delays the decision until Saturday, the Vikings decide that Peterson can’t show up on a Saturday and play the next day after missing 11 weeks of action, and before the team’s next game the appeal on the suspension is resolved.
It’s also possible that one of the things happening behind the scenes is that Peterson and the NFL will work out a compromise. And that, like everything else when it comes to Peterson’s case, could potentially happen as soon as Monday.