The NFLPA will file an appeal in federal court on Adrian Peterson’s behalf after the NFL’s hand-picked arbitrator, Harold Henderson, ruled that Peterson’s suspension was justified. Here’s what Henderson said in his ruling:
The facts in this appeal are uncontested. The player entered a guilty plea which effectively admitted guilt to a criminal charge of child abuse…No direct evidence of the beating was entered in the record here but numerous court documents, investigative reports, photographs and news reports, all accepted into evidence without objection, make it clear that Mr. Peterson’s conduct was egregious and aggravated as those terms are used in the Policy, and merits substantial discipline. His comments do not reflect remorse or appreciation for the seriousness of his actions and their impact on his family, community, team and the NFL, although at the end of the hearing he said that he had learned from his mistake, he regrets that it happened and it will never happen again.
The NFLPA should buy Mr. Henderson a dictionary. Henderson said that Peterson’s remarks don’t “reflect remorse. Here’s Dictionary.com’s definition of remorse:
deep and painful regret for wrongdoing; compunction.
Mr. Henderson’s statement doesn’t make sense. Mr. Henderson first states that Peterson didn’t express remorse, then admits that Peterson had expressed remorse. That’s legal doublespeak for saying that the NFL entered the appeals hearing with their minds made up. Rest assured that the NFLPA’s lawsuit will highlight the fact that the NFL’s appeals process is rigged.
In each of the other major sports, the league hands out the initial discipline, then hands off the appeals process to an independent arbitrator. The NFL does it differently and inconsistently. Substantive due process isn’t possible without consistency.
Here’s part of what Peterson told ESPN’s Ben Goessling:
“Of course I’d miss it. It’s my first love. But the reason I would be walking away from it would be (if the next steps in the process) kind of solidify that hurt from these incidents. I would know that, ‘Hey, you’re walking away not because you’ve given up. You’re walking away because they’re handling you all the way wrong in this situation. They’re painting you out to be a guy that you’re not.”
The running back, who was indicted by a grand jury in September for recklessly injuring his 4-year-old son while disciplining him with a switch, said he saw his son at a counselor’s office in Minnesota last week for the first time since the incident. “He was running to me, and he jumped in my arms,” Peterson said. “I know the counselor is thinking, ‘This is not what I expected.’ The kid jumped in my arms. He was rubbing my head, pulling me to go play with him.”
Finally, it’s important to remember that the NFL suspension for physical abuse was 2 games at the time of the incident. An independent arbitrator rule against the NFL in the Ray Rice ruling after the NFL changed its initial ruling.
Appeals processes that aren’t guided by consistently applied procedures aren’t legitimate appeals. They’re a rigged court, which the courts can’t sanction.