NFL

NFL AM: Peterson Inches Closer to Reinstatement

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An hour-long meeting between Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Tuesday in New York has set the stage for Peterson to be reinstated by the league when he is eligible next Wednesday.

The All-Pro running back currently remains on the commissioner’s exempt list after the appeals process voided his suspension to end last season. Following the meeting between Peterson, Goodell and representatives from each side, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that it is “highly unlikely” Peterson will face further suspension in 2015.

Peterson appeared in just one game last season after he was brought up on child abuse charges in Texas, stemming from an incident last summer in which Peterson allegedly used a switch to discipline his son, leaving visible wounds. He was placed on the commissioner’s exempt list while the legal process played out. In November, Peterson reached a deal to plead no-contest to misdemeanor reckless assault charges and shortly thereafter, Goodell moved to suspend him for the rest of the 2014 season.

Peterson appealed the suspension, and his request was initially denied by NFL arbiter Harold Henderson. But when the NFL PA took up Peterson’s cause in court, U.S. District Judge David Doty voided Henderson’s decision, calling into question the suspension, which kept Peterson out of the final six games of the season. The league appealed Doty’s decision to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and that appeal has yet to play out.

In the meantime, Peterson is taking the steps necessary to ensure he will be able to play at the outset of the 2015 season. Tuesday’s meeting was the first time he and Goodell had spoken since the chargers were brought on Peterson in September. In the immediate aftermath of the legal proceedings, Peterson resisted a meeting and even failed to appear at a league hearing, after which the suspension was issued.

At the time of the suspension, Goodell sent Peterson a letter, which cited his actions and a “failure to show meaningful remorse” for them as reasons behind the league ban. Peterson told USA Today after receiving the letter that he was taken aback by Goodell’s conduct.

“Ultimately, I know I’ll have my opportunity to sit down with Roger face to face, and I’ll be able to say a lot of the same things that I’ve said to you,” Peterson told USA Today’s Tom Pelissero. “Don’t say that I’m not remorseful, because in my statement, I showed that I was remorseful. I regretted everything that took place. I love my child, more than anyone could ever imagine.”

Peterson, who turned 30 on March 21, is one of the most prolific running backs in NFL history. Over the first seven-plus seasons of his career, all spent with the Vikings, he has appeared in 104 games with more than 2,000 career carries for 10,190 yards and 86 rushing touchdowns.

Once he is reinstated by the league, Peterson will have to resolve his issues with the Vikings one way or another. The running back still has three years left on his contract with the team, but he and his agent Ben Dogra have been adamant about wanting to move on from Minnesota and begin a new chapter of his career. The Vikings have been resistant and held steadfast to their stance that if Peterson plays in 2015 it will be for them. That should make from some intriguing machinations from both sides as the draft approaches.

BLOUNT SUSPENDED FOR 2015 OPENER

One running back who won’t be on the field as the 2015 season gets underway is New England Patriots rusher LeGarrette Blount. The league announced on Tuesday that Blount has been suspended without pay for one game due to a violation of the substance abuse policy.

The suspension stems from an incident last August when Blount, then a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers, was arrested along with Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell following a routine traffic stop. Blount was a passenger in the car and was charged with marijuana possession while Bell, the driver of the car, was charged with DUI. A decision on a suspension for Bell, expected to be two games, has yet to be announced.

The charges against Blount were dropped after he performed 50 hours of community service, but the NFL still saw fit to levy a suspension for the violation.

The incident kicked off a strange season for Blount, who was signed by the Steelers last offseason to serve as a change of pace back to Bell. He played in 11 games with Pittsburgh and flashed big potential with 118 yards rushing and a touchdown on just 10 carries in a Week 3 win over Carolina. But he didn’t rush for more than 30 yards again over the final eight games of his tenure with the team. After a five-carry, zero-yard performance against the New York Jets in Week 10, Blount was left on the sidelines for the team’s Week 11 game against the Tennessee Titans and caught the ire of the Steelers front office when he walked off the field before the game ended. Two days later, he was released.

It all worked out for Blount, however. He ended up back in New England, where he had spent the 2013 season. After signing a two-year deal with the Patriots, Blount played in five of New England’s final six games and averaged 56 yards per game. He was a vital part of the Patriots’ Super Bowl run, contributing a 30-carry, 148-yard, three-touchdown effort in the AFC Championship win over Indianapolis. He carried just 14 times for 40 yards in Super Bowl XLIX against a tough Seattle defense, but did enough to balance the Patriots offense and help them to pull out the victory.

He is expected to again be a key cog in the rushing attack of the defending Super Bowl Champions in 2015, particularly following the departures of the team’s top two leading rushers last season, Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley. But the Pats will have to make do without him in their season debut, which is likely to take place on the night of Thursday, September 10 in New England to kickoff the 2015 season against a yet to be named opponent.

HERNANDEZ TRIAL GOES TO JURY

The trial of former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez in the murder of Odin Lloyd is now in the hands of the jury after closing statements from both sides were heard on Tuesday afternoon inside a Fall River, Massachusetts courtroom.

Several new pieces of information came out in closing arguments, the biggest being the defense’s admittance that Hernandez was at the scene of the crime and witnessed Lloyd’s murder. The defendant’s lawyer James Sultan painted a picture of Hernandez as an innocent and helpless young man who didn’t know how to act in the moments following the murder, which the defense attributed to Hernandez’s co-defendants, both of whom await trial.

“Did he make all the right decisions? No,” Sultan said of Hernandez in his closing argument. “He was a 23-year-old kid who witnessed something, a shocking killing, committed by someone he knew. He didn’t know what to do, so he just put one foot in front of the other.”

Lloyd, who was in a relationship with Hernandez’s fiancee’s sister at the time of his murder, was shot six times on June 17, 2013 at an industrial park less than a mile from Hernandez’s residence. Prosecutors have been able to tie Hernandez closely to the incident, but have not been able to produce a murder weapon or motive, two key factors that could lead to an acquittal.

Hernandez was arrested on June 26, 2013, nine days after Lloyd’s death, and charged with first degree murder. He was indicted on murder charges two months later and in September of 2013 he was arraigned and pled not guilty. He has been in prison awaiting trial ever since. That trial finally began on January 29 and lasted more than two months, featuring hundreds of pieces of evidence and more than 130 witnesses.

Now it’s up to the jury to decide whether what they’ve heard and seen is enough to convict the former NFL star, who also awaits trial on double murder charges stemming from a shooting in Boston in June of 2012.


About Devon Jeffreys

Devon Jeffreys