From outside appearances, Adrian Peterson is free and clear of his suspension, allowed to resume his NFL career as of today.
But to read the contents of the Fed Ex letter A.P. received from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, it would seem clear that the lawyers that wrote it still have Peterson on double-secret probation.
In the letter, Goodell informs Peterson that he’s coming back, but that the league office’s interest in this matter is far from complete. In the carefully worded correspondence, it would seem that Goodell and the league office are begrudgingly allowing Peterson to come back. Here are some excerpts from that letter, obtained by ABC.
Per the meeting of April 7 between Peterson and the league, Goodell wrote that Peterson and his representatives claim he has been fulfilling the “plea conditions” imposed by the Montgomery County, Texas courts, adding, “Having no information to indicate otherwise, we accept your representations and consider you presently in compliance with this aspect of your review.”
The wording gets more dicey as the letter continues.
Goodell wrote, “From my perspective, the most important aspect of our discussion on April 7 was your commitment, which you stated on several occasions, to remain fully engaged in counseling and treatment for as long as your counselor deems necessary – even if it is longer than required by the Minnesota or Texas authorities. This commitment to continued engagement is critical because I remain concerned that you have not yet fully embraced the need for significant changes to your parenting practices.”
The fact that Goodell (or the letter’s author) felt it necessary to underline the word “significant” is sending a clear message to Peterson that he remains under the league microscope and that Big Brother is still watching.
In granting his reinstatement, Goodell made it clear to Peterson that there are conditions, including that he must fulfill all remaining obligations in Minnesota and Texas as it pertains to courts orders, probation and child protection services requirements. It also lays out that he must continue to honor his commitments involving the counseling and treatment program he is currently taking part in.
Goodell ended the letter by saying, “Needless to say, any failure to meet your obligations and commitments will prompt an immediate review by my office and may result in disciplinary action. More important, your continuing participation in the NFL expressly depends on your avoidance of any further conduct that violates NFL policies. As I advised last November, any further violation of the Personal Conduct Policy will result in additional discipline, which could include suspension without pay or banishment from the NFL.”
Perhaps this is merely boilerplate language that is included with all players who violate leagues rules or conduct protocol. But from the outside looking in, the clear inference that can be drawn from Goodell’s letter to Peterson is that, while he is free to resume team activities, the non-blinking eye of the NFL remains firmly fixed on Peterson and anything that may happen from this point forward, his prior history hasn’t been forgotten.
Seeing as Goodell gets to play judge and jury in the punishment of players – including the phrase “continuing participation in the NFL,” which implies that it is a privilege and not a right – his ensuing actions remain firmly under the microscope of the NFL.
Those of us who know Peterson are aware that football is his motivation. It isn’t about money, even though he makes more than any running back in NFL history in that regard. It’s about doing what he loves to do, whether that is going to continue to be with the Vikings or with someone else. But the message being sent from Goodell and the suits from New York is quite clear – you’re out of the doghouse, but you’re not out of the woods just yet. Fly right or you’ll be coming back to see us again.
Welcome back to the NFL, A.P. You’ve been missed. But what happened with your son last spring hasn’t been forgotten by those who are in charge of your workplace and, from the sounds of things, it never will be completely forgotten. For those who recoiled in horror when they learned the details of his disciplining of his son, the Goodell letter may suffice, but the wording would lead most to believe that his future actions will be heavily scrutinized by the league office.
Goodell remains ‘concerned’ with Peterson
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