It’s been an unexpectedly busy week for the Vikings. On Monday, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Adrian Peterson for “at least” the rest of the 2014 season. On Tuesday, the arbitrator hearing Peterson’s grievance about being on the Commissioner’s Exempt List ruled that he will stay on the list until the appeal of his suspension is heard.
On Wednesday, Peterson’s teammates faced the media to answer questions about their feelings on the commissioner’s decision. Jerick McKinnon summed up the feelings of many players, saying that the players had no say in whether Peterson would come back to help breathe life into the Vikings offense.
“Words can’t describe it,” McKinnon said. “That’s out of my hands. Honestly, I don’t agree with it, but there’s nothing I can do about it. All I can do is play my part here in this organization and do the best I can.”
There was a sense of frustration among players that felt the punishment was too harsh. Peterson has been on the exempt list since after Week 2 and he has had his 2014 season take away from him, which had some questioning when is enough punishment enough.
“I don’t agree with it,” Captain Munnerlyn said of the decision. “He’s missed nine games already, but, at the end of the day, the NFL came up with that decision and we have to live with it.”
In a three-page ruling justifying the suspension under the personal conduct policy, Goodell was sharply critical of Peterson for his lack of public contrition. The letter was made public to explain why Goodell believes Peterson deserved to have the remainder of his season struck down through suspension. Most players acknowledged hearing about it, but didn’t want to see what the commissioner had to say about Peterson.
“He’s still appealing, so I guess it’s kind of an open book,” Brian Robison said. “I haven’t (read Goodell’s ruling). To tell you the truth, I couldn’t care less about reading it.”
Although the specter of Peterson still loomed large in the Vikings locker room Wednesday, the silver lining from the Vikings is that it isn’t something they haven’t been accustomed to. They only had Peterson for the season opener, so preparing for Green Bay won’t be all that much different than what they’ve done in game preparation the last two months.
“We still have to go about our business like we’ve been going about it since Week 2,” Jasper Brinkley said. “At least we know what’s going on now. Most importantly, Adrian is a great guy – not only as a football player, but as a human being.”
There is some sense of closure to having at least this step of the case finally resolved, which can help the Vikings quit dealing with the distraction that the case has brought on the organization and they can move on the business of playing football and the daunting task in front of them that the Green Bay Packers will bring Sunday.
“I’m just glad it’s over,” Munnerlyn said. “We can move forward and focus on Green Bay. We know now that he’s not coming through those doors and coming back this year to be on our team. At the same time, we’re kind of hurt that he’s not, but we knew it was coming, so we just have to move on.”
Whether the Vikings like it or not, the NFL never stops moving from the start of the season to the end. Complaining about the ruling won’t change it and, with the decision made to shut down Peterson for the remainder of the 2014 season, the Vikings have to get back to work and prepare for the final six games of their season as they have the last nine games – without Peterson.
“We have to live with it,” Robison said. “We have to move forward and concentrate on the Green Bay Packers. That’s how we have to handle it.”
Vikings on Peterson: ‘Have to move forward’
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