Update — Tuesday, Nov. 18 5:29 p.m. ET
On Tuesday, Nov. 18, an arbitrator ruled that the Adrian Peterson can stay on the Exempt List. Earlier today, the NFL announced Peterson will be suspended without pay through April 2015.
The arbitrator was hearing arguments from the NFLPA and NFL about Peterson's status on the Exempt List after he pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor reckless assault charge.
The settlement effectively resolved the legal matters surrounding Peterson leaving lacerations and marks on his 4-year-old son by hitting him with a "switch."
Though the legal issues have been resolved, Peterson will not return to the field this season. Following the resolution of his legal issues, he was not immediately removed from the Commissioner's Exempt List, the NFL's "purgatory" list that bans the player from participating in team activities, but the league still pays him his full salary.
On Nov. 10, the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) released a statement stating that they had "filed an expedited, non-injury grievance to remove Adrian Peterson from the Commissioner's Exempt list based on explicit language in a signed agreement dated Sept. 18, 2014."
Through Nov. 16, Peterson collected his full salary of $700,000 while on the Commissioner's Exempt List.
There were two scheduled meetings between the NFL and Peterson, the first for Friday, Nov. 15.
On Saturday, it was reported by Adam Schefter of ESPN that Peterson had "declined to attend" Friday's meeting with the NFL. During that hearing, Peterson would have had the opportunity to present information for the NFL to consider while determining an appropriate punishment for him. The league issued a rest-of-season suspension early Tuesday.
An NFL spokesperson told Schefter, "We will have to address this based on the information currently available to us." But the NFLPA said the NFL had ignored an important detail: it would have been illegal under Texas law for Peterson to turn over documents the NFL had requested.
On Sunday, the NFLPA released a statement on behalf of Adrian Peterson, explaining why he had declined to attend the meeting:
After consulting with the union, I told the NFL that I will attend the standard meeting with the Commissioner prior to possible imposition of discipline, as has been the long-term practice under the [collective bargaining agreement], but I wouldn't participate in a newly created and non-collectively bargained pre-discipline "hearing" that would include outside people I don't know and who would have roles in the process that the NFL wouldn't disclose. [...] The process they are pushing is arbitrary, inconsistent, and contrary to what they agreed to do, and for those reasons, I never agreed to the hearing.
The NFL has a demonstrated history with being inconsistent with punishments given to players, often appearing to make a choice without precedent and on a whim. Recently, Ray Rice and the NFLPA argued that he'd been punished twice for the same incident.
Another case also points to the NFL's inconsistent leanings on "time served," undoubtedly a factor in Peterson's push to be reinstated. During the 2013 season, Aldon Smith of the 49ers voluntarily missed four games to attend rehab. When deciding Smith's punishment for the 2014 season (which involved many different instances of legal trouble), NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the four games Smith had missed would be a factor in his suspension. Ultimately, Smith was suspended a full nine games without reduced time for prior "time served".
The possibility of "time served" playing a factor was addressed in a statement released by the NFLPA on Nov. 17:
The facts are that Adrian has asked for a meeting with Roger Goodell, the discipline imposed is inconsistent and an NFL executive told Adrian that his time on the Commissioner's list would be considered as time served.
The NFLPA must walk a tight line in advocating for Peterson on behalf of the rights of all players, but not appearing to condone Peterson's violence against his young son. The situation gives the NFL quite a bit of leverage, but the NFLPA is determined to assure Peterson is not treated unfairly under the NFL's "make it up as we go" punishment procedures.