In the NFL – Is Winning More Important Than Doing the Right Thing? Apparently, the Vikings Will Allow Adrian Peterson to Play Next Sunday.

In the National Football League is winning the game more important than doing the right thing? Apparently for the Minnesota Vikings and its millionaire owners, Zygi Wilf and Mark Wilf, it definitely is.

As most of the sports world is aware, Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was indicted on child abuse charges after he brutally punished his 4-year-old son with a switch. The Vikings initially did what was right and deactivated Mr. Peterson from last Sunday’s game against the New England Patriots. However, it seems that the Vikings’ owners, the Wilf brothers, will be changing course. Owners Zygi Wilf and Mark Wilf released a statement saying that Mr. Peterson will be allowed to fully participate in practices and meetings this week and is expected to play Sunday against the Saints.

Per the Vikings’ statement, “To be clear, we take very seriously any matter that involves the welfare of a child. At this time, however, we believe this is a matter of due process and we should allow the legal system to proceed so we can come to the most effective conclusions and then determine the appropriate course of action. This is a difficult path to navigate, and our focus is on doing the right thing. Currently we believe we are at a juncture where the most appropriate next step is to allow the judicial process to move forward.
We will continue to monitor the situation closely and support Adrian’s fulfillment of his legal responsibilities throughout this process.”

What happened over the last few days that would call for a change of stance by the Minnesota Vikings’ ownership? It’s simple: the Vikings got beat and beat badly Sunday by the Patriots 30-7. Let us be perfectly frank here. The Wilf brothers may, for public relations reasons, take seriously issues involving the welfare of children. But it is without question that these two greedy millionaires take more seriously the issue of winning football games on Sunday. See, a winning team translates into more revenue generation by a NFL franchise and if Adrian Peterson, one of the NFL’s most productive running backs, can help put more money into the Wilf’s pockets, who cares if he is a child abuser. The bottom line is the bottom line!

I perfectly understand, and actually agree in most cases, of the NFL’s longstanding policy in criminal matters involving its player — that being where there is a criminal investigation being directed by law enforcement and prosecutors the NFL will allow for due process and will do everything to cooperate with law enforcement and, in accordance with such, will take no action to interfere with the criminal justice system.

Such a policy makes sense when the alleged crime affects only the players themselves, like a drug possession charge, weapons charge, or DUI. But in situations where there are victims, i.e. domestic abuse and child abuse, the NFL and its owners should forgo its policy of allowing for due process and cooperating with the legal system and do the right thing on behalf of the victims and automatically suspend the athlete. It is the right thing to do and would act as a deterrent for other players who find themselves in such situations. A player make think twice before hitting a defenseless child with a tree branch if he knows that he will have to forgo collecting on a large part of his playing contract. Especially in this case since the details of the beating by Mr. Peterson on his own son are so disturbing, there is no question that the right thing to do is to suspend Mr. Peterson indefinitely from the game of football.

What I find disturbing, but apparently the Wilf brothers don’t, is that Mr. Peterson admitted the he did “whoop” the 4-year old boy with a switch, in additon to the investigator’s report which found the following:

  1. a)  The doctor told investigators that the boy had a number of lacerations on his thighs, along with bruise-like marks on his lower back and buttocks and cuts on his hand.
  2. b)  The police report says the doctor described some of the marks as open wounds and termed it “child abuse.” Another examiner agreed, calling the cuts “extensive.”
  3. c)  In addition, the four-year-old boy reportedly told authorities, “Daddy Peterson hit me on my face.”
  4. d)  Peterson reportedly told police during the investigation, “To be honest with you, I feel very confident with my actions because I know my intent,” and said he’d reconsider using a switch but wouldn’t “eliminate whooping my kids.”

So to the millionaire Wilf brothers – isn’t doing the right thing the right thing to do? I know you only generated $250 million dollars in revenue last year and that the Vikings franchise is only valued at $1.150 million dollars, but come on, a helpless four year old child was beaten by one of your players. If the player in question were a third string defensive end and not the leading rusher for your team for the past 7 seasons, would he still be on the team. You don’t have to say anything, we all know the answer would be no – that third string player doesn’t generate you any revenue, but a child abuser who can lead the league in rushing does.

The only thing we as true sports fans can hope for is that Commissioner Goodell steps in and does the right thing this time. Commissioner – do you read You should.

Ray Rice Files an Appeal of His Indefinite Suspension from the NFL

Former Baltimore Raven running back Ray Rice filed an appeal of the indefinite suspension imposed upon him by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for Rice’s connection with a domestic abuse charge involving his then fiancée last spring. The appeal will be handled on behalf of Ray Rice by the both the NFL Payers’ Association and by an outside counsel recently retained by Rice.

Ray Rice will contend that the indefinite suspension is arbitrary and capricious because he told the Baltimore Ravens and the NFL the truth about the incident.  Whether or not such a fact matters is left to be seen because under the terms of the NFL’s Personal Conduct Policy the Commissioner has the power to discipline a player when he, and he alone, determines that such player exhibits conduct that is detrimental to the league.

The Personal Conduct Policy grants the Commissioner the “full authority to impose discipline as warranted when he learns of a player who does not conduct himself in a way that is responsible, promotes the values upon which the League is based, and is lawful.”  The terms of the Personal Conduct Policy expressly allow for the Commissioner to discipline players in the form of “banishment from the League.”

Commissioner Goodell, who imposed the indefinite suspension upon Ray Rice, will have the ultimate authority over the appeal as well.  This is because the indefinite suspension, imposed per the terms of the NFL’s Personal Conduct Policy, allows for the Commissioner to retain jurisdiction over such matters. Yes, Commissioner Goodell in this case, together with most cases involving the NFL, is the prosecutor, jury, judge and appeals judge.

Ray Rice, his legal team, and the Players’ Association will more than likely ask the Commissioner’s Office and the League to designate a hearing officer who has no current connection to the league office. The reason for this is because Commissioner Goodell and other League Office personnel will most likely be called as witnesses during the appeal since Ray Rice’s position is that he should not be subject to such a harsh ruling because he was honest with both the Baltimore Ravens or the Commissioner about the events that occurred between his fiancée and himself on the evening in question. Again, whether or not such a fact is relevant per the terms of the Personal Conduct Policy will be seen.

Requesting an outside hearing officer is the correct thing to do in this matter and should ultimately be granted. Such a request isn’t without precedent since it is what Commissioner Office did in the appeal of the players suspended in connection with the Saints bounty case.