Peterson eager for return after judge overturns suspension

Reuters News
Posted: Feb 27, 2015 7:36 PM

(Reuters) - Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson said on Friday he was keen to return to the field after U.S. District Judge David Doty overturned his suspension by the NFL.

"It is a positive step in protecting players' rights and preserving due process for all players," Peterson said in a press release one day after Doty granted an NFL Players Association motion to vacate a previous ruling by an arbitrator.

"It also brings me one step closer to getting back on the football field and playing the sport I love."

The NFL has appealed the decision by Doty, who ruled that National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell acted beyond his authority in November when he suspended Peterson, the league's most valuable player in 2012, until at least April 15.

The federal judge said the NFL could not retroactively suspend Peterson under a new personal conduct policy announced by Goodell in December for behavior that occurred under the old code.

Peterson had pleaded no contest in Conroe, Texas, in November to a misdemeanor assault charge for spanking his son with a switch. He was ordered to pay a $4,000 fine and perform community service.

After Peterson's plea, Goodell suspended him. Third-party arbitrator Harold Henderson, a longtime NFL executive, denied Peterson's appeal on Dec. 12, leading the players union to file suit.

Peterson played just one game last season after being arrested in September. He was placed on the commissioner's exempt list, taking him off the field but allowing him to retain his $11.75 million salary.

"As I prepare for my return to football, I am still focused on my family and continue to work to become a better father every day," Peterson said in his statement.

Whether or not Peterson remains with the Vikings is another question.

If the Vikings want him back, they could just retain him, or, if they think his $13 million salary for 2015 is too expensive, could try to restructure his contract. The team is also free to trade Peterson once the NFL year begins March 10.

Peterson's father, Nelson, says he has heard of three teams interested in the six-time Pro Bowl running back.

"I've heard rumors, Arizona," he said. "I've also heard the rumors of Indianapolis and the Colts. I've also heard the Cowboys."

(Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Gene Cherry)