New York: Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was suspended Tuesday by the National Football League for at least the remainder of the 2014 season for violating the league`s personal conduct policy.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said the league will not consider reinstating Peterson before April 15 of next year and ordered him to undergo counseling, therapy and treatment.
The league players` union said it will appeal the punishment, calling it "inconsistent," and hope to have it heard by an independent arbitrator, although under the league`s agreement with the union it would be Goodell who hears any appeal.
Peterson`s banishment without pay comes as a result of the discipline Peterson inflicted on his four-year-old son last May. Striking the boy`s rear with a tree twig led to severe cuts and bruises.
Peterson was charged with reckless or negligent injury to a child in Texas and pleaded no contest to a lesser charge on November 4, avoiding jail time but receiving probation, a $4,000 fine and a requirement to perform 80 hours of community service.
"You have shown no meaningful remorse for your conduct," Goodell said in an open letter to Peterson. "When indicted, you acknowledged what you did but said that you would not `eliminate whooping my kids` and defended your conduct in numerous published text messages to the child`s mother.
"You also said that you felt `very confident with my actions because I know my intent.` These comments raise the serious concern that you do not fully appreciate the seriousness of your conduct, or even worse, that you may feel free to engage in similar conduct in the future."
Peterson skipped a hearing with Goodell last week. The two have not met and talked about the matter.The 30-year-old rusher, whose 2,097 yards in 2012 was the second-best one-year total in NFL history, owns the league record for most rushing yards in a game with 296. For his NFL career, Peterson has 10,190 rushing yards and 86 touchdowns.
Peterson`s punishment will depend upon his work with an NFL-mandated treatment counselor, not the one who Peterson said he has been seeing.
"The timing of your potential reinstatement will be based on the results of the counseling and treatment program set forth in this decision," Goodell told Peterson. "Under this two-step approach, the precise length of the suspension will depend on your actions.
"We are prepared to put in place a program that can help you to succeed, but no program can succeed without your genuine and continuing engagement. You must commit yourself to your counseling and rehabilitative effort, properly care for your children, and have no further violations of law or league policy."
Peterson has said he wishes to be reinstated as soon as possible, but should he lose the appeal, he will have to wait until training camps open next July.Goodell, criticized for a weak response to domestic abuse in punishing former Baltimore Ravens rusher Ray Rice earlier this year, made it clear he was aware of the victim`s perspective in a case of criminal physical abuse.
"The difference in size and strength between you and the child is significant and your actions clearly caused physical injury to the child," Goodell said.
"While an adult may have a number of options when confronted with abuse -- to flee, to fight back, or to seek help from law enforcement -- none of those options is realistically available to a four-year old child."
The union`s statement called the suspension of Peterson by the NFL "another example of the credibility gap that exists between the agreements they make and the actions they take.
"Since Adrian`s legal matter was adjudicated, the NFL has ignored their obligations and attempted to impose a new and arbitrary disciplinary proceeding."
The union said that a league official had told Peterson that the time he has already missed this season, more than half a season, would be considered as time served.
"The NFLPA will appeal this suspension and will demand that a neutral arbitrator oversee the appeal," the union said.
"We call on the NFL management council to show our players and our sponsors leadership by committing to collective bargaining so a fair personal conduct policy can be implemented as quickly as possible."