While the defense attorney Rusty Hardin isn’t currently slated to represent Adrian Peterson as he appeals his suspension from the NFL, Hardin had some harsh criticisms of the NFL’s decision to suspend Peterson for “at least” the remainder of the season.
“I don’t think anybody on an assembly line in Detroit right now thinks that if they make a mistake in disciplining their child that their employer is going to fire them and then take them through the ropes like this,” Hardin said Wednesday on ESPN Radio. “I don’t believe anybody in the private sector expects their employers to be deciding what should happen to them if they make a good-faith mistake in disciplining their child, and that’s what has happened here.”
After being indicted on a charge reckless or negligent injury to a child in September and being placed on the Commissioner’s Exempt List – a status that required him to stay away from the Minnesota Vikings’ facility but continue to be paid – Peterson pleaded no contest to a lesser charge of reckless assault on Nov. 4. The NFL continued to keep him on the exempt list. On Tuesday, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Peterson until April 15.
The NFLPA officially filed its appeal on behalf of Peterson on Thursday and a representative for Hardin confirmed that Peterson’s defensive attorney in the criminal case hasn’t been asked to assist with the appeal with the NFL.
But Hardin said in his radio interview that the criminal case should have been the end of Peterson’s punishment and that the NFL should have allowed him to return to the field.
Hardin called it “incomprehensible” that the NFL would look to investigate a player’s dealings in his home over and above what the criminal justice system already does.
“How much are we supposed to punish this man for his mistakes?” Hardin questioned. “It’s cost him his reputation. It’s cost him millions of dollars – every endorser dropped him like a hotcake. Next to Peyton Manning, I think he was the second-most heavily endorsed athlete in the NFL and he’s lost all of that because of the public outcry and people’s perception of that.”
The NFL issued a three-page statement on Tuesday in announcing Peterson’s suspension, including portions of a letter from Goodell to Peterson saying the star running back hasn’t shown remorse and that the NFL can’t be sure his actions wouldn’t be repeated.
“For Goodell’s statement to be so hypocritically self-righteous about Adrian not showing sufficient remorse, who in the hell does he think he is?” Hardin said.
Jerome Felton, one of Peterson’s close friends on the team, said he believes the NFL’s power to dish out discipline without an independent arbitrator needs to change. But at this point, that is what has been collectively bargained.
Felton said he doesn’t believe any player will voluntarily go on the Commissioner’s Exempt List again after seeing Peterson remain on it, but the rules of that list clearly state that only the commissioner can take Peterson off that list.
“I don’t know if (Peterson) regrets (going on that list). I would,” Felton said. “I’m sure if he knew this would be the outcome he probably would have fought it to the end.”
Instead, Peterson pleaded no contest and declined a separate hearing with the NFL, saying in a statement that, after consulting with NFL Players Association, a separate hearing isn’t part of the disciplinary process spelled out in the CBA.
“I’m just amazed at the way they keep making these things up as they go along,” Hardin said on ESPN Radio. “They looked bad in early things with Ray Rice … and now they just decided to make Adrian the scapegoat for all of their past failings.”
Hardin takes exception to the NFL deciding appropriate discipline for a child, calling it “unbelievable.” The defense attorney also said no one is listening to what the mother of the 4-year-old boys wants, saying she wanted no further punishment for Peterson.
Hardin said Peterson had six hours of counseling before the plea and recognizes he made a mistake and “felt badly about it.”
“There is nothing the NFL is doing here except trying to make up for the horrible way they have handled domestic violence, which this was not,” Hardin said. “All they’re trying to do is curry favor with the public.”
Hardin said the Vikings supported Peterson and wanted him back on the field.
At this point, the likelihood of that remains up in the air.
Hardin blasts Goodell over Peterson case
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