8th Cir. Upholds NFL Suspension of Adrian Peterson

By Jonathan R. Tung, Esq. on August 05, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

When Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson texted to his son's mother to say he felt bad not for engaging in child abuse, but for accidentally striking his boy's 'nuts,' he probably was not aware that he was taking chances with his career. A short time later, Peterson was suspended from playing.

This punishment was upheld by the Eighth Circuit yesterday when it was ruled that the NFL had the right to imposed fines and suspend Peterson after he was charged for felony abuse of his child.

"Tearing That Butt Up When Needed"

Peterson's multi-game suspension all began when he grabbed a switch off of a tree and disciplined his son with it. According to police records of communications between him and the boy's mother he tore up "that butt up when needed." Clearly, controversy was not far away. Peterson played only a single game that season.

Within its Authority

The Eighth Circuit's ruling comes almost in tandem with a Second Circuit decision which saw Tom Brady's suspension for his role in "Deflategate" upheld. In both cases, the courts rejected players' contention that the NFL's disciplinary process was fundamentally unfair. Under that process, Commissioner Roger Goodell or his designee could hear challenges to Goodell's own disciplinary decisions. But that was exactly the situation players agreed to in their collective bargaining agreement, the Eighth determined.

The opinion was based on simple contract principles, grounded in the notion that the player's union and the NFL had a meeting of the minds in the collective bargaining agreement about being bound by arbitrators' decision when it came to issues of player suspension over questionable conduct. The League's appointed arbitrator affirmed a six-game suspension for Peterson.

There's no word yet if Peterson will fight any longer and request an en banc hearing or petition SCOTUS. Either way, it appears that from now on, Peterson will not be missing any more games barring any further conduct issues from him.

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