Adrian Peterson is on the path to resuming his football career.
The Pro Bowl running back, who missed the final 15 games of the 2014 season and was under an indefinite suspension after being charged with child abuse, had his ban overturned in court and will be eligible for reinstatement.
"There is no dispute that the Commissioner imposed Peterson’s discipline under the New Policy. See NFLPA Ex. 18. It is also undisputed that in the Rice arbitration, the hearing officer3 unequivocally recognized that the New Policy cannot be applied retroactively, notwithstanding the Commissioner’s broad discretion in meting out punishment under the CBA. See id. Ex. 119, at 16.4 Consistent with that recognition, the Commissioner has acknowledged that he did not have the power to retroactively apply the New Policy: “The policy change was forward looking because the League is ‘required to provide proper notice.’” Id. at 7; id. Ex. 35, at 101:12-13, 99:21-100:15. Yet, just two weeks later, the Commissioner retroactively applied the New Policy to Peterson.
DeMaurice Smith of the NFLPA issued a statement following the ruling, via Master Tesfatsion of the Star Tribune:
Garafolo provided a statement from the NFL, who will appeal the decision:
The Vikings issued a statement as well on the team's website:
Adrian Peterson is an important member of the Minnesota Vikings, and our focus remains on welcoming him back when he is able to rejoin our organization. Today's ruling leaves Adrian's status under the control of the NFL, the NFLPA and the legal system, and we will have no further comment at this time.
Peterson offered a statement on Friday, per Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio:
“I was pleased to learn about Judge Doty’s decision. It is a positive step in protecting players’ rights and preserving due process for all players. It also brings me one step closer to getting back on the football field and playing the sport I love. As I prepare for my return to football, I am still focused on my family and continue to work to become a better father every day. I want to express my gratitude for all of the support I have received from the fans, NFLPA, Jeffrey Kessler, and my agents Ben Dogra, Tracy Lartigue, and Mark Heligman from Relativity Sports.”
NFLPA president Eric Winston reacted to the news, while SI.com's Peter King shared his thoughts:
Peterson, who turns 30 in March, was suspended for at least the remainder of the 2014 season in November for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy. The running back appealed and lost that ruling in December, leading to the court proceedings.
NFL Network's Albert Breer provided the NFLPA's argument for a reversal of the decision:
The longtime Vikings star was charged in September for disciplining his four-year-old son with a switch as a form of corporal punishment. He later pleaded no contest to a charge of reckless assault.
The suspension has long been in the NFL's appeals process. Independent arbitrator Harold Henderson denied Peterson's attempt to get back on the field in 2014, a decision that was later appealed to federal court. The NFL asked a court to throw out the NFLPA's appeal in January.
The decision may not end all of the courtroom proceedings, as Florio of Pro Football Talk pointed out that the NFL could appeal the ruling.
Thursday's ruling also will not end debate in the court of public opinion about his playing status.
Breer reveals why he believes the Vikings can be patient in regards to Peterson:
Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press provided comments from Adrian's father, Nelson Peterson:
The aging back, who was once one of the NFL's shining faces, will return to the field with untold scrutiny. He'll also return a player about whom no one is sure what to expect. He carried the ball only 21 times for 75 yards in 2014. Heading into his age-30 season, there are fair questions to ask about whether Peterson is still a Pro Bowl-caliber back.
It's equally fair to expect some team to roll the dice to find out. In his seven other full NFL seasons, Peterson never rushed for fewer than 970 yards or 10 touchdowns. He's a six-time Pro Bowler, a former MVP and a six-time All-Pro selection. When healthy, Peterson is the rare running back worthy of his workhorse reputation, as Vikings general manager Rick Spielman told reporters:
Adrian is maybe one of the most unique players I've been around. Where everybody talked about maybe he wouldn't be the same coming off his ACL, but that was his best year coming off that. Knowing Adrian, he's going to play at a very high level when he comes back. I'm anticipating that knowing Adrian from what he's done in the past.
Whether that's the case or not, we'll soon find out. Peterson has 2,054 career carries and the looming history of running backs over the age of 30 hanging over his head. With his reinstatement out of the way, his task is now proving the doubters wrong.
Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter.