Taped calls show very strong effort to get Peterson to show up for NFL meeting


Four days ago, the NFL Players Association filed a legal challenge to the suspension of Vikings running back Adrian Peterson.  The exhibits to the petition include a pair of recorded phone calls between Peterson and NFL executive V.P. of football operations Troy Vincent.

PFT has obtained the recorded phone calls.  They create the distinct impression that Vincent was trying aggressively and zealously to persuade Peterson to attend a meeting in the league office on Friday, November 17.

“We’ve gotta make sure you show up on Friday,” Vincent said at one point in the first of two recorded calls.  That first call also had Vincent suggesting very strongly to Peterson that, if he shows up for the meeting, he could learn as early as that night that he would miss only two additional games before returning for the final five games of the season.

“The number that you gave me is real,” Vincent said in reference to a two-game suspension, “but you gotta go through the process.”

Vincent’s words ultimately were used by the NFLPA and Peterson as evidence that the NFL retaliated against Peterson for not showing up at the November 14 meeting, yanking a wink-nod understanding that he’d be suspended two games and hitting him with a harder punishment.  But it was unclear from the two phone calls whether Peterson definitely would be suspended only two games if he showed up at the meeting.  Listening to both tapes, the impression is that Vincent (regardless of motivation) desperately wanted to get Peterson to attend the meeting, and that Vincent (regardless of motivation) came off as a guy who was trying to broker a deal behind the scenes.

There’s no clear guarantee from Vincent that Peterson would have gotten only two games if he had shown up for the meeting.  With Vincent asking Peterson “can I trust you?” and insisting that Peterson not tell anyone about their discussions regarding a two-game suspension, it’s clear Vincent had one clear objective — to get Peterson to show up.

Possibly, Vincent was doing so at the behest of Commissioner Roger Goodell and/or others in the upper echelon of the league office.  Possibly, Vincent was simply acting on his own, thinking that he’d be helping Peterson by getting Peterson to submit to a meeting that was loosely defined and, given the involvement of outside experts, unprecedented.

Vincent’s testimony from the Peterson appeal hearing, a copy of which PFT also has obtained, makes it clear that Vincent was dealing with a diverse group that had developed no consensus as to Peterson’s additional punishment.  The audiotapes don’t convey the same “anything can happen” message to Adrian; instead, Vincent was strongly selling optimism that the final outcome could be two games.

Far more telling than the discussions about a two-game suspension were a couple of other comments that have not been emphasized by another media outlet that obtained the audio.  First, Vincent asked Peterson in the initial call, “If there is more discipline, what should it be?”  This strongly implies that Vincent, contrary to his superiors, believes suspension with pay is discipline.

Second, if there was any doubt about the first comment, Vincent elaborated on that point in the subsequent call.  “You were away from the game,” Vincent said.  “You were not participating, even though it was a paid leave.   You were not participating.  And ballplayers know their shelf life.”

Faced with that language during the Peterson appeal hearing, Vincent offered the following explanation: “Can I tell you why I shared that? Is because inside this group I had people who have no idea what the culture of or what the lifespan is of a National Football League player and they could care less. I was hoping, when this — that they would consider that you have a shelf life, the body has a shelf life as an NFL player. Because there are people in this group, they could care less. I was giving context so they can keep things into consideration.”

That’s the strongest, clearest argument yet against the NFL’s ill-advised position that paid leave for allegations of off-field misconduct isn’t discipline.  And it’s coming from the NFL’s executive vice president of football operations, one of the highest ranking members of the league office.

Regardless of anything else that happens with Peterson’s case, Vincent’s taped comments and testimony should become the centerpiece of a challenge by the NFLPA to the league’s cockeyed notion that putting a player on paid leave harms neither the player nor his team.  Surely, it does.

If there was any doubt, just ask Peterson and the Vikings, who’d likely be a lot better than 6-8 right now if they’d had Peterson available for even half of the season.

53 responses to “Taped calls show very strong effort to get Peterson to show up for NFL meeting

  1. So they offered him a deal if he showed up to the meeting, and didn’t give him that deal when he didn’t show up? The NFL has done a lot of things wrong in this case but I don’t see the problem with that.

  2. His paid time away cost him additional monies… AP did not have the opportunity to reach any incentives that could’ve been in his contract like Pro Bowl, rushing title, whatever..
    The guy has been punished enough. The NFL is a mess.

  3. If my job was on the line… I would do every dam thing I can to see that I hold on to it…diva….

  4. Hopefully he’s spending his down time with the 4 year old he abused and not considering him a payment, but his child.. But I doubt it

  5. OK yes. “RBs are a dime a dozen”. AP is a diamond in a generation of RBs. you cannot place his talent amongst the many. Not even D.Murray is close.

  6. I think it is a leap of faith by yourself, probably to emphasize a point you are eager to make, that the Vikings would “likely” be a lot better than 6-8 with Peterson on the field. He has been on the team for quite a few years now and 6-8 is about what they usually are with him. And it certainly appears as though if he had just bothered to show up to the hearings his reinstatement would have been more likely. The truth is he has only showed the minimum amount of remorse for his actions. And I suspect that is not genuine and only something his handlers have convinced him to do. Everyone deserves a second chance. But at least make a fake attempt at political correctness and act like you are sorry you assaulted a 4 year old with a tree limb and stuffed leaves in his mouth. Even if you aren’t.

  7. Another good question is whether Vincent will fall on his sword and take the heat for his statements or if it will come out that he was acting and speaking on behalf of the commisioner and therefore the owners.

    Your article should point out that it was the NFLPA that was strongly urging Peterson not to attend this meeting that they felt was clearly outside the expected parameters of the CBA.

    There is no way to take Vincent’s comments other than to conclude that for him at least Peterson’s punishment has been 15 games. While no one condones his actions that punishment for a player’s first offense of any kind is absolutely ridiculous and indefensable.

  8. Sad that it will take a judge ‘s ruling to make the NFL treat their players fairly. The lockout is coming, there’s no doubt. All the players have watched Godell botch punishments for a long time now and we have hit the tipping point. Just wish the owners (zygi in particular) would stand up to godell and end this make it up as we go era.

  9. So the NFL made recordings of things that might show the league office in a good light or support their position but close their eyes to the elevator video and don’t record meetings, or say they have recordings of meetings that show the lies and hypocrisy of the league.

    Goodell must go

  10. Sorry, but I can’t get the image out of my head of a 4 year old with leaves stuffed in his mouth, crying from the pain of being beaten to the point of bleeding.

    If this happened to any one of you, you’d be screaming assault, calling the cops and getting a lawyer.

    I wholeheartedly agree everyone deserves a 2nd chance when making a mistake, but Peterson hasn’t shown any remorse.

    Not time for a 2nd chance, yet.

  11. The meeting was not required by the CBA. There was no reason for AP to attend it. It was just to help the NFL save face, which he did by voluntarily going on the commissioners exempt list and that ultimately backfired. Giving him a stiffer penalty for not attending it shows just how childish Goodell is.

  12. It is hard to have your interests represented if you don’t even care enough to show up to a meeting.

    Of he wanted to play for the vikings, he would have been there.

    He made the easiest money of his life.

  13. Just because you enjoy your job, even if that job can only last so long in your life, paid vacation still isn’t punishment. Yes it may hurt the team and yes it may hurt the player, but (other then the panthers Greg hardy, who was convicted by a grand jury) the media had visual proof. Ap wasn’t innocent until proven guilty when we all seen the pics and text messages from him. At that point he was proven guilty. At which point the NFL told him to go away til his legal issues were over. With Ray mcdonalds(49ers) no visual evidence, no convictions and no exemption list. Also this is showing the league made an effort but Peterson was being stubborn. Playing npjn the NFL is a privlage not a right, so this crap that the league has to let Peterson play in itself is just insane. Floral what if the government came in and told you that you had to hire(and keep on your pay roll, despite anything said or done) a convicted rapist who constantly says insensitive things or does things that hurts the company? Is that right? So why should the government come in and tell the NFL what to do? They are not suspending him because of his race or religion they are suspending him because he committed a crime that can give the company a bad image. Maybe they just don’t want that, and that’s fine

  14. AP, if the union advised you not to attend this meeting, you now know they have their own agenda. You are just a stepping stone. From the very beginning the union has been looking at the bigger picture not what was best for AP.

  15. skittlesareyum says:
    Dec 19, 2014 9:46 AM
    So they offered him a deal if he showed up to the meeting, and didn’t give him that deal when he didn’t show up? The NFL has done a lot of things wrong in this case but I don’t see the problem with that.
    You won’t be the last person to suggest that all AP had to do was show up to this last meeting and he would be playing. But, what you’re ignoring is, that the NFL would have to actually honor their own word. It has never happened in this case. If you are lied to consistently, what do you do when that same person says; “you can trust me this time”.

    Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me again, shame on me. The NFLPA has zero reason to believe anything the NFL says.

  16. I don’t understand the NFL but then who does. For such a “Top” management team they have screwed the pooch on this from day 1. Suspension is certainly a punishment which is why they suspended him. It wasn’t a reward to be suspended therefore it logically follows that it was a punishment. Lack of opportunity to reach incentives and considering the NFL presented argument now acknowledging the NFL presented “Shelf Life of a player”, there is no other rational conclusion. I am not a Viking supporter but come on…..this scenario is and has been a NFL screw up. The punishment has far exceeded the crime & penalty for the average parent and some consider borders on cruel and unusual punishment.

  17. giantsfanlewis says:
    Dec 19, 2014 10:02 AM
    Just because you enjoy your job, even if that job can only last so long in your life, paid vacation still isn’t punishment.
    What part of lost bonuses and future money in a new contract for performance escapes you the most? AP clearly lost money due to the year long suspension. Just because he made “some” money, does not mean he was not financially punished.

  18. The last time you guys championed “what the NFL PA should do” it blew up in their faces. Not sure you should be making any suggestions above the importance of sock-tie coordination.

  19. Come on… lets try to think a little before we just react and say “well it’s your fault you should have showed up”.

    Why is the NFL trying to force AP in to showing up to a meeting that NO ONE has ever had to go to before? Why did the NFL not tell AP (or the union) what was going to happen at the meeting? AP was never guaranteed that if he shows up he only gets 2 games and I highly doubt AP trusts Goodell to do the right thing.

    By showing up for this meeting there is a new precedent set that all players need to go through a new step to get back on the field. (ie just like this new bogus exempt list). None of this is being collectively bargained for… Goodell is trying to throw around his power and make it up as he goes. I would have pushed back too if I was AP and the Union… enough with Goodell thinking he can do whatever he wants!

  20. NFL players do have a shelf life but paid leave isn’t discipline. If a player gets hurt at the beginning of the year and could come back late the team could chose IR anyway. Your premise means that any time spent on IR after being physically able constitutes discipline since he is still paid but not allowed to play for incentives. It doesn’t and the principle is the same here. It was an administrative action. You can call it a consequence but it is not specific punishment meted out by the league. Don’t forget that he would have played all year but for a legal process caused by his own actions.

  21. Mike,
    I really appreciated this post. I think you captured well the issue of a missed season on an aging player, especially one with the potential of setting records and changing the course of a season for a team.

    There is a case to be made that Peterson should be punished for the mistreatment of his son, perhaps even severely. At the same time, one must also be able to see a logical and reasoned link between what happens in the courts and then what is follows from the NFL. The convoluted process used by the NFL and subsequent punishment given to Peterson is complex when is should have been simple and nonsensical when it should have been logical. That it is ending up in the courts is a testament to the NFL’s ineptitude.

  22. He didn’t start a real suspension until just recently. A paid vacation is not a suspension. #dontcensoropposition

  23. If Peterson actually believed that preventing him from playing while still being paid as if he were, is just as bad as being suspended without pay, then the solution is simple. He returns the funds that he was paid or agrees to accept a fine equivalent to those sums. Would he or the union accept this compromise? I doubt it.

  24. So, according to Vincent, there are executives in the highest levels of the NFL who are ignorant of the basic fact that NFL players have a short shelf life? Seriously? And they have the power over whether they play or not?

    That’s about on par with a surgeon being unaware that his skills can cause pain.

  25. While AP deserved a 6 game suspension without pay one way or the other, the issue on failing to show up for the “hearing” and all the uninformed comments relating to it fail to note the crux of the issue — the NFL wasn’t even following its own discipline procedure. Under the discipline policy/procedure in place, AP was supposed to have a meeting with Goodell, not a formal hearing with a bunch of people, etc. His legal advisors simply wanted to follow the CBA process and advised AP against anything outside that process. Goodell, of course, needed to cover his rear since the CBA-mandated meeting process and decision in the Rice deal backfired so miserably. Now Goodell has the gonads to say AP didn’t show remorse or cooperation when he was just trying to get the NFL to follow its own collectively bargained process. AP deserved punishment, but the NFL hierarchy is a joke.

  26. That shouldn’t matter he miss all 16 games paid suspension or not that alot for a misdemeanor while ray rice get reinstated just doesn’t sound fair as a Vikings fan I hope the Vikings keep him it would definitely make them a playoff contender next year

  27. If he thinks he got punished now wait till the off season and the Vikings cut him and he signs a 2 year 6 mil deal. He was a fool not to go and has no one else to blame but himself for this mess, he beat his child to the point medial attention was required then was suspended with pay and when they finally were ready to discuss his penalty moving forward he wouldn’t attend the meeting or do anything of the things the NFL wanted him to do, either AP is getting bad advice or his is a moron either wouldn’t surprise me.

  28. This is what happens when lawyers enforce laws, they are fluid. any way the wind blows Goodell. The modern day Pontius Pilot doing whatever the people think is best that day.

  29. Connormacleod

    Just because you lost bonuses because of your own actions doesn’t mean it’s punishment. Many jobs offer bonuses for good work and those jobs also have the right to suspend you with pay. you can work at a wal mart, be suspended with pay and miss a bonus because of it. A cop can be suspended due to an investigation, miss a bonus due to a quota that needed to be met while he was suspended, get cleared of the charges and has to just move on. So please stop that bs. It can happen in any job. If you don’t want the punishment don’t do the crime. Sadly ap was just trying to dicipline his child the way he was taught, but that was isn’t acceptable in modern times and he took it to far at that.

  30. Besides the original egregious behavior, AD (abusive dad) opted not to participate in the process, he decided to smoke weed and tell the world about it at a time when he should have been getting his life in order, and very importantly, he showed minimal remorse and took no preemptive steps to address his problem or contribute to society’s dialog on domestic/family violence. He had opportunities to make himself look like something other than a complete fool, and chose the alternative. NO sympathy for the jerk.

  31. Most of you folks are a bit crazy when it comes to punishing these players. In both AP and Rice committed such minor crimes that neither were punishable with jail time, in the case of Rice even with the video they would not have been able to convict him of a crime, that is why they did not prosecute.

    Society and the NFL think it is justifiable to not let these people have their jobs back. If everyone who was convicted of a minor misdemeanor were fired and not allowed to work in their profession society would collapse.

  32. Troy Vincent is causing more harm than helping the NFL’s position. Goodell needs to fire this guy.

  33. Would have been fun to see what Bridgewater could have done this year with the running threat of Peterson in his backfield. His 300+ yards passing against the #1 defense in the league last week with a pair of practice squad RBs, 3 backup OL, and a practice squad WR as his #1 target. Throw into the mix Peterson and his usually 8-9 man box defensive fronts and it would have been fun to watch. Vikes lost close games to GB an Detroit, with AP you could have easily made them wins as well as close games with Buffalo and New Orleans. The Vikings would easily be the NFC North leaders.

    Too bad we’ll never know as its pretty clear Adrian has played his last game in MN. Good luck Adrian, wherever you end up.

  34. Look at the language of the agreement between the NFL and the NFLPA when Peterson went on the exempt list.

    It said that Peterson would not be punished by the league or the club while he was on the list.

    It did not say he would not be “further punished” it said he would not be punished.

    This is a clear acknowledgement by the union that being placed on the exempt list was not punishment.

    True, going on the list had both positive and negative consequences for Peterson. He got paid in full without risking damage to his body which is a positive and he lost out on an opportunity to earn performance bonuses and boost his popularity through his play on the field which is a negative.

    The mere fact that he wasn’t on the field to earn performance bonuses however does not qualify as punishment by the league or the team. If it did then players could sue their clubs any time they were benched by the team for whatever reason as not being played by their coaches has the same effect on their earnings that being placed on the exempt list does.

  35. AP has met the enemy….

    It is amazing to me that anybody would try to read more into Vincent’s comments than what they are truly worth: zippo.

    Good luck to the NFLPA, they will need it

  36. It is clear that Vincent wanted Peterson to attend the meeting.

    The only question is why.

    I think he was at least somewhat sincere in his belief that a meeting with Goodell and his “experts” would give Peterson the opportunity to convince the NFL that he was truly a changed man, which would in turn lead to a reduced level of punishment being applied by Goodell.

    I think it is important to remember that this meeting was an opportunity, not a requirement, to meet with Goodell and give his side of the story directly to the person who would decide his punishment.

    There is nothing in the CBA that says that Goodell may not enlist the assistance of “experts” to help him determine what the appropriate punishment should be, or that he could not invite those “experts” to attend any meeting he might have with the player involved.

    I think Peterson received some very bad advice to forego availing himself of the opportunity offered him.

    I see no reason to assume that Vincent was not sincerely a “player’s advocate,” at least so much as an NFL executive could be, in the discussions that he attended with other NFL executives about Peterson’s punishment. I have no idea if he was correct in his assessment that he could convince Goodell to go along with Peterson’s proposal for a two game suspension without pay if Peterson was willing to help in the effort by explaining his reasoning to Goodell and his “experts.”

    I’m not sure we will ever know if Vincent was correct in his assessment of that likelihood.

    What we do know is that without Peterson’s help it certainly did not happen.

  37. The NFLPA are grasping at straws at this point. They KNOW they screwed up in advising Peterson not to attend those meetings.

    When your continued employment is on the line and you are offered a chance to attend a meeting that decides it, YOU SHOW UP period! You don’t have to say a word, just listen to what is said. You move heaven and earth to make sure you are there a half hour early!

    One thing that seems to get lost in all this…..had Peterson used the common sense God gave a mosquito, he would never have whipped his son the way he did. Anything/everything that happens in the end is entirely Peterson’s fault.

  38. I keep seeing comments suggesting that being paid while not playing is not punishment but rather a paid vacation. That is asinine and can only be coming from someone who chooses not to understand. Virtually none of us can relate. When we do our jobs, 65,000 people aren’t cheering for us. If that is one of your reasons for laying, not having it is punishment. None of us can relate to having that many people screaming to support you – or being able to shut up that many people screaming against you.
    Yes, money is great and these guys get a ton (to which we can also not relate), but they wouldn’t do it if they didn’t want to play. Think about this, all year round, people gather in sandlots all over the country to play this game just for fun. Because it is fun even without the rush of playing on the biggest stage against the best competition. I don’t get a bunch of people together in my spare time to write code. And I’m sure nobody here gathers to serve french fries for the fun of it. Mom told me I couldn’t play little league one year and it was punishment.
    Telling one of the best ever that he can’t play football (even though he wants to play and could do so at a high level) is absolutely punishment.

  39. Inept handling on both sides.

    Good. I hope he has so many “unprecedented” hassle-factors, he decides to retire for good.

    Good riddance.

  40. Gee, was the first skin-breaking whip sufficient for the 4 year old to get the message? Poor AP, he missed some games and feels punished, even thou paid. Get real.

  41. Ray Lewis is immortalized and he killed someone. Michael Irvin is still a crackhead driving around with his “Brother’s” pipe. I’m sure everyone will bring back Hernandez with open arms. People get your facts straight at least. The leaf thing was made up by the media. And the child wasn’t being seen for a beating it was something else non related the doctor took over. I don’t agree completely with what he did but he is being punished for artificial additions to accusations. I hope all you haters suffer the same fate as you all hide your faults. This is more than Adrian it is about our country not preserving a man’s right to provide for this child you’re so worried about.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.