Minnesota Vikings star Adrian Peterson told a top NFL executive in the days leading up to his suspension for the rest of 2014 that he wanted Commissioner Roger Goodell to consider that he’d already lost $4 million in endorsements and missed more than half the season while his child abuse case played out.
“How much more you all want from me, you know what I’m saying?” Peterson said, according to a transcript of a phone conversation the six-time Pro Bowl running back recorded with Troy Vincent, the league’s executive vice president for football operations.
Peterson called Vincent to try to get a firm idea of how many games he would be suspended, while Vincent tried to convince Peterson to meet with Goodell and other NFL executives to talk about his personal progress and expectations to move past the situation.
The transcripts of the phone calls, used in Peterson’s unsuccessful appeal of his suspension, were provided to The Associated Press by a person familiar with the case. The person provided the transcripts on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release them.
The conversations took place after Peterson pleaded no contest in Texas to misdemeanor reckless assault for physically disciplining his 4-year-old son with a wooden switch, but before the NFL announced its punishment. Peterson received probation time, community service and a small fine as part of a deal that will remove the misdemeanor from his record if he completes the time requirements without incident.
Peterson, the NFL Players Association and the league are at odds over what the conversations mean. An arbitrator, however, sided with Goodell and the NFL last week in saying that Vincent didn’t promise any specific discipline and the NFL didn’t retaliate against Peterson for not attending the meeting.
Vincent told Peterson he took Peterson’s suggestion of being suspended an additional two games to others in the NFL. He said they responded favorably if Peterson agreed to meet and get things on track so everyone could move forward.
“There’s different people, different motives,” Vincent said. “We’ve got to get you back on this football field, get your family back together, restore your life. Once this thing is done there is no more going back.”
Peterson floated two other ideas for discipline toward Vincent during the conversation: Allowing his nine games missed to serve as his suspension while tying any future suspension to whether he violated his probation, or sitting out one more game while being fined his salary for an additional game.
Vincent testified on Dec. 4 that he visited Peterson at his home in Texas because he felt the star running back “needed some help,” according to arbiter Harold Henderson’s decision upholding the NFL’s suspension.
The conversations between Vincent and Peterson were informal. The 2012 NFL MVP at one point hinted he may retire: “I have so many other options and stuff going through my head too. I was just thinking about hanging it up as well.”
Vincent responded by encouraging him: “You’ve gotta go to the grave empty. And God has given you so much talent and he’s given you ability.”
Peterson to NFL: How much more you all want?
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