How The Commissioner’s Exempt List Screwed Adrian Peterson
Adrian Peterson has been suspended through "at least" the rest of this season, because the NFL has finally sprouted a conscience and grown a spine, or because they're making up crap as they go along, depending on which side of the fence you stand. It's a complicated issue, but one thing is clear: the "NFL Exempt/Commissioner's Permission List" ended up being a pretty raw deal for the Vikings' running back.
Peterson was first placed on the list back in September after news of his child abuse case broke, and he went voluntarily -- it kept him away from all team activities (including games, of course) but he continued getting paid. In fact, thanks to his huge contract, AP was making $700,000 a week without lifting a finger. Seems like a good deal, unless you're a professional football player who wants to return to the field.
By going on the list, Peterson gave the league all the power. Here's a description of the list via NFL.com:
Only the Commissioner has the authority to place a player on the Exempt List; clubs have no such authority, and no exemption, regardless of circumstances, is automatic. The Commissioner also has the authority to determine in advance whether a player's time on the Exempt List will be finite or will continue until the Commissioner deems the exemption should be lifted and the player returned to the Active List.
There is nothing about the list, as far as we can see, that denotes whether time served on the list can or should count towards a subsequent suspension. According the NFLPA, which will appeal AP's suspension on his behalf, an NFL executive told them that AP's nine weeks on the list would count as time served:
— Ed Werder (@Edwerderespn) November 18, 2014
NFLPA says in statement NFL exec told AP exempt list would count as time serve. Will union name that executive?
— daniel kaplan (@dkaplanSBJ) November 18, 2014
Looking back, had the NFLPA and Peterson known that he would be suspended on top of being kept away from the field via the list, they would have appealed any suspension levied by the league or the team, kept playing through the appeal, gone to trial (and likely ended up with the same result -- either a no contest or even a not guilty). Instead, Peterson appears to be getting punished twice, and will have been suspended (if the suspension is upheld) a total of 15 games, six of them without pay.
Players still on the list, like the Panthers' Greg Hardy, are likely taking note of this development in the AP case -- and you can bet no player in the future will want to take the risk of putting their career solely into the hands of the commissioner's office again. Just ask AP's lead blocker, Jerome Felton:
To say I disagree would b the understatement of the year! And I hope this does away w going on the "commisioners exempt list"!!
— jerome felton (@jfelton45) November 18, 2014
Regardless of your view on the suspension itself -- too harsh, justified, not harsh enough -- it's clear that the league is acting in self-interest here, rather than in the interest of making Peterson more contrite or remorseful. Its use of the list in conjunction with its rather bizarre and vague justifications for arbitrary and inconsistent punishment demonstrate that.
Photo via Getty
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