During the 2014 off-season, we all heard the story about how Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones had a conversation with Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson about how Peterson would like to play for the Cowboys and blah blah yadda yadda we're not rehashing it here. After all was said and done, the National Football League deemed that the Cowboys were not tampering with Peterson in any way because. . .well, because Jerry Jones, I guess.
Well, after Peterson's reinstatement by the National Football League was announced, the Cowboys posted an article on the team's official website entitled "Reinstated Peterson Would Make Cowboys Serious Contenders." Now, I'm not Perry Mason or Ben Matlock or anything like that, but it appears that this is a pretty significant no-no, much more so than Peterson and Jones' phone conversation.
When looking at the NFL's Anti-Tampering Policy, there's a paragraph on Page 3 that appears to be applicable in this case. It reads like this:
Any public or private statement of interest, qualified or unqualified, in another club's player to that player's agent or representative, or to a member of the news media, is a violation of this Anti-Tampering Policy. (Example of a prohibited comment: "He's an excellent player, and we'd very much like to have him if he were available, but another club holds his rights.")
That bold part? Yeah, that's basically the premise of the entire article from the Cowboys' website. In fact, the second full sentence of the article is this:
Adrian Peterson, set for NFL reinstatement on Friday, remains under contract with the Vikings, who have stated publicly they have every intention of keeping their star running back in Minnesota.
I would think that an entire freaking article on the official website of one of the NFL's 32 teams that talks about a team acquiring a player that's currently under contract with a team would fall under that heading, particularly after said story acknowledges that said player is not exactly available.
Now, over at Pro Football Talk, Mike Florio cites a paragraph that I, quite honestly, can't find in the Anti-Tampering Policy, though it's possible that there's a more recently updated copy of the policy out there somewhere than the one I've linked above. That paragraph reads as follows:
Articles that appear on the website of a club that identify prospective free agents that the team might be interested in, or that rate prospective free agents, shall not be considered violations of the Anti-Tampering Policy unless they include a direct quote or expression of interest by an employee of the club (other than the author of the article) about a specific player.
Which is all well and good, sure. However, in this case, there's just one itsy bitsy teeny tiny little problem with all that.
Adrian Peterson is not a free agent. Based on what the Minnesota Vikings have said throughout this process, he's not a "prospective free agent." Based on what the Minnesota Vikings have said throughout this process, he's not even a "prospective trade target". . .unless, you know, every player in the NFL is a "prospective trade target" and that nobody is allowed to talk about anybody.
As things stand right now, Adrian Peterson is under contract to the Minnesota Vikings for the next three years. Therefore, it stands to reason that he should be off limits to employees of the other 31 NFL teams that could, potentially, have designs on acquiring him.
Will the NFL actually do anything about this? Probably not. But Florio also said this on the Twitter a bit ago:
League has no comment on the question of whether the Cowboys' website article regarding Adrian Peterson violates the tampering rules.— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) April 17, 2015
So perhaps, at the very least, the NFL is going to humor us by pretending to look into it. But I'd be shocked if anything happened beyond that.