Troy Vincent told Adrian Peterson he would not be subject to new personal conduct policy
Troy Vincent admitted at Adrian Peterson’s suspension appeal hearing that he told the running back he would not punished under the league’s new personal conduct policy guidelines. Unfortunately for Peterson, other factors suggest that may not be enough to overturn his suspension.
Adrian Peterson was told by the NFL that he would not be subject to the league’s stricter personal conduct policy before being handed an indefinite suspension, according to Bloomberg News. Peterson submitted a transcript of his conversation with Troy Vincent at his suspension appeal hearing, in which the NFL’s vice president of football operations reportedly let Peterson know, in no uncertain terms, that the running back would not be subject to the league’s automated six-game suspension for first time offenses of domestic violence.
“So remember this, A.P.,” Vincent reportedly told Peterson. “You’re not, today, you are not subject to the, to the new Personal Conduct Policy.”
Peterson was suspended for the rest of the 2014 season, and perhaps longer, in November upon pleading no contest to misdemeanor assault charges, resolving his indictment on felony child abuse charges in September. Conveniently, the Vikings had six games remaining in the season when the NFL suspended Peterson, suggesting that, despite Vincent’s assurances, the Minnesota Vikings running back was subject to the new personal conduct policy.
Vincent confirmed that he made those assurances during his testimony in front of arbitrator Harold Henderson. Via Bloomberg:
Jeffrey Kessler, an attorney for Peterson, asked Vincent: “My question is you were telling him he was not subject to the new Personal Conduct Policy; is that right?”
Vincent responded yes. Asked how he knew, Vincent said, “I was just taking that based off when his crime was committed.”
Said Kessler: “Your understanding as the Executive Vice President of the National Football League, in your position, was that the new Personal Conduct Policy would only apply going forward, correct, not the past behavior?”
“Correct,” Vincent testified before arbitrator Harold Henderson, who spent 16 years at the NFL overseeing player and labor relations.
“And that is what you were conveying to Adrian?” asked Kessler.
“Yes,” Vincent said.
Peterson hasn’t played since Week 1 because of the child abuse case. He was deactivated for Week 2, then placed on the NFL’s exempt/comissioner’s permission list. While on the exempt list, Peterson continued to receive pay and the Vikings were able to replace his spot on the 53-man roster. Still, Peterson has argued that he was told that his time on the list would count as “time served,” and that his understanding was that he would be reinstated upon the resolution of his legal obligations.
Whether Peterson will win his appeal could hinge on how Henderson interprets Peterson’s decision to skip a disciplinary meeting. Though Vincent admits he told Peterson he would not be subject to the new personal conduct policy, a report by USA Today suggested that Vincent’s assurances depended on Peterson attendance at the meeting, which Peterson protested.
Henderson could also determine that Vincent didn’t have the authority to interpret Peterson’s potential discipline based on Vincent’s testimony.
An attorney for the NFL, Daniel Nash, during the arbitration hearing asked Vincent if in his position he’s responsible for interpreting the Personal Conduct Policy for the league.
“No, sir,” Vincent said.
Nash then asked Vincent if he’s responsible, or has ever been responsible, in either assessing discipline for child abuse cases or evaluating discipline under the conduct policy.
“No, sir,” he said.
The result of the hearing, if no settlement is reached, could come down to semantics. Peterson’s missed hearing seems to give the NFL the out it didn’t have when a judge ruled that the league’s imposition of an indefinite suspension on Ray Rice was “arbitrary.” The fact that Henderson used to work in the NFL front office as the executive vice president for labor relations may not help Peterson’s cause.