When it comes to off the field crime during the NFL's calendar year, 2014 will be remembered as much for Roger Goodell's questionable handling of punishment as it will be for the crimes themselves.
Of course, there was the Ray Rice domestic assault case, whose discipline process set a new standard for offensiveness and ineptitude, complete with Goodell possibly lying about Rice's testimony in their sit-down meeting and a total overreaction (to their initial under-reaction) by the Ravens and the league to the release of the video of the incident in which Rice struck his fiancé. Eventually, that mess had to be cleaned up by somebody else, with Rice getting reinstated upon appeal.
Then there was Vikings running back Adrian Peterson's child abuse case, in which Peterson sat out over two months of the season while he was in court, eventually plead to a lesser charge, and was still suspended until April 2015, despite being told he'd be credited for time served. Like Rice, Peterson appealed.
And like Rice, Peterson's Goodell mess had to be cleaned up by somebody else.
Late Thursday morning came news that Judge David Doty ruled in Peterson's favor on his appeal of the suspension that he was handed after Peterson pleaded no contest to reckless assault on his son.
At the core of Peterson's (and the NFLPA's) argument was their contention that commissioner Roger Goodell was wrong to apply the new personal conduct policy (which was announced after the botching of the Rice case) to Peterson for an act he committed before that policy was put into place, and argument with which Doty agreed.
So barring a subsequent appeal from the NFL (which, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, they have the right to do), Adrian Peterson will now be reinstated to the Minnesota Vikings, opportune timing for Peterson and the Vikings considering the league's business year starts on March 10.
It's unclear whether Peterson will want to play for the Vikings, as there was a highly publicized confrontation at last weekend's NFL Combine between Peterson's agent Ben Dogra and some Vikings personnel people, in which Dogra made it clear that his client did not appreciate the lack of support from the team during his court case and in the wake of the league's punishment.
For what it's worth, the Vikings have said in no uncertain terms that they would like Peterson to play for them in the upcoming season, however, if he things get contentious enough, the Vikings could trade Peterson or release him. Given the fact that Peterson is one of a small handful of running backs worth a decent draft choice in a trade, that would seem to be a far more likely outcome than the Vikings just letting him go.
The Dallas Cowboys, Peterson's favorite team growing up, are considered the likely leader to land Peterson's services if indeed the Vikings decide to move him.
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