[Note: Make sure to read the updates below if you visited the page earlier.]
The Adrian Peterson saga has seen an incredible amount of twists and turns throughout the past year. Thursday marked another incredibly important change of events.
Chalk this one up as a gigantic victory for the NFLPA, because it appears that Peterson's suspension is officially over. According to just about every NFL news media outlet on Twitter, U.S. District Court judge David Doty has "vacated the arbitration award" on Adrian Peterson. We don't have much more on the story at this time, but what that means is Peterson has effectively been reinstated nearly two months before the original April 15 restriction placed on him by the NFL.
Regardless of where you stand on Adrian Peterson's future with the Minnesota Vikings, this is very good news. It means that the Vikings (and their fans) don't have to twiddle their thumbs until right before the draft to take action. The Vikings will have to do something definitive regarding their star running back--something they have avoided to do since the child endangerment allegations originally broke back in September. If Peterson truly doesn't want to play for the Vikings anymore, the team can begin working on ways to move him and clear most of his $15.4 million cap hit. If AP and the team still think they can come to some sort of agreement, they can begin their communications much sooner than originally thought.
However, don't expect the situation to be resolved in the next few days. Players can't be traded until the beginning of the league year, which is March 10. The NFL can appeal this decision if they so choose, even if it might create another PR nightmare for the league. It might also be difficult to get an appeal hearing before April 15, when Peterson was scheduled to be up for reinstatement in the first place.
Stay tuned for much, much more. Because this is the Minnesota Vikings and Adrian Peterson we're talking about here--there will be at least a handful more twists before this thing is said and done. This decision should have a huge impact on the Vikings, Peterson's career, and the stronghold of authority that Roger Goodell and the NFL have going forward.
UPDATE 12:00 PM: It appears that Judge Doty's main reasoning for overturning Peterson's suspension was that the NFL tried to punish him under its new Personal Conduct Policy even though the incident occurred before the policy was put in place. Doty claims that arbitrator Harold Henderson exceeded his authority and didn't properly explain why "the well-recognized bar against retro activity did not apply to Peterson". You can read Judge Doty's entire 16-page explanation here if you are so inclined.
The NFLPA has issued a statement regarding the ruling:
This is a victory for the rule of law, due process and fairness. Our collective bargaining agreement has rules for implementation of the personal conduct policy and when those rules are violated, our union always stands up to protect our players' rights. This is yet another example why neutral arbitration is good for our players, good for the owners and good for our game.
UPDATE 2:26 PM: And since the NFL is...well, the NFL...they're planning to appeal the decision handed down by Judge Doty. Because of course they are. Per Ian Rapoport:
In important news, the @NFL is expected to appeal the Adrian Peterson ruling handed down by Judge Doty. Explanation coming online.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) February 26, 2015
Apparently the NFL is going to say it was Doty who actually overstepped his authority by overturning the decision. Like we said with the original post, stay tuned. Because this is a looooong way from over.