NFL taps former league executive to hear Peterson appeal

Reuters News
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Posted: Nov 21, 2014 4:45 PM

By Steve Ginsburg

(Reuters) - Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson's appeal of his suspension will be heard on Dec. 2 by former NFL executive Harold Henderson, the league announced Friday.

Peterson was suspended by the NFL without pay for at least the remainder of the 2014 season on Tuesday for committing what it termed "abusive discipline" on his son.

The players union appealed the suspension, saying the crime occurred in May but Commissioner Roger Goodell imposed a new disciplinary process on Aug. 28.

Under the NFL's Article 46 (Commissioner Discipline), appeals of discipline for off-field conduct are heard and decided by the commissioner or his designee.

Henderson was the NFL's executive vice president of labor relations until 2007 and has been a hearing officer since the summer of 2008. The NFL told Reuters he has heard 87 appeals since 2008 involving personal conduct and drug issues.

He has heard cases involving such well-known players as Brandon Marshall, Bryant McKinnie, Josh Gordon, Wes Welker and D.J. Williams. Since 2012, Henderson has been president of the NFL Player Care Foundation, which benefits former players.

Henderson's appointment did not sit well with the union.

"The NFL has positioned a former NFL executive and current consultant as neutral," the NFL Players Association said in a statement. "Everybody, at this point, can see through what they are trying to do."

Peterson, 29, pleaded no contest on Nov. 4 to misdemeanor reckless assault in Texas for injuries to his 4-year-old son caused by his use of a switch in disciplining the child.

The switch, a thin, wooden branch with its leaves removed, caused cuts and bruises over much of the child's body. Peterson was originally charged with a felony for the assault.

The NFL has been grappling with cases of domestic abuse by its players, and has toughened the sanctions for those crimes amid heightened scrutiny by the public and league sponsors.

Peterson is a six-time Pro Bowl running back and the NFL's most valuable player in 2012.

(Reporting by Steve Ginsburg in Washington; Editing by Eric Walsh)