Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson is scheduled to meet with NFL officials on Monday. Peterson is asking to return to the league now that his child abuse case has been resolved. Meanwhile, Ray Rice, formerly of the Baltimore Ravens, is awaiting a ruling from an independent arbiter on the appeal of his indefinite ban for domestic violence.
Sports Illustrated’s Doug Farrar spoke to Bill Littlefield to about the chances of the players getting back on the field.
BL: From the outset, Peterson admitted using a switch to discipline his son – something he said was done to him when he was a boy. But the early details of Rice’s case were murkier. How do those differences affect their prospects for coming back?
Beyond all the off-season stuff, when it comes down to what happens in NFL front offices, that's a matter of pure talent. And, really, don't let anyone tell you otherwise.Doug Farrar, Sports Illustrated
In Ray Rice's case you're dealing with kind of a double punishment. They suspended him for two games for what they saw in the original video in the elevator in the casino with his then-fiancee, now-wife. And then later came back after all the uproar and said, "Oh, well now we've seen more of the video and now it's a lifetime suspension." And Rice's contention, and I believe he will win in this case, is that the NFL had all of this information from the start and they're trying to cover their own bases here.
BL: Elite running backs often see their skills decline quickly as they approach age 30. Rice is 27. You said this week that he doesn’t have enough “left in the tank” to compete in the NFL. Make your case for why you think Rice’s career may be over.
[sidebar title="Raiders: Silver And Blah" width="630" align="right"]Oakland is limping through yet another NFL season. The Raiders' last win came one year ago.[/sidebar]DF: Well, in the last three years he's gone from 4.7 yards per attempt in 2011, to 4.4 in 2012, to 3.1 in 2013. Justin Forsett, who was a seventh-round pick a number of years ago for the Seattle Seahwaks and had been bouncing around in the league, is now in this offense and he's one of the most productive backs in the NFL. So the Ravens, who I'm sure are pretty much done with Rice in general, have every right to see running backs as a fungible entity and I think most teams do.
The difference with Peterson is that he has been massively productive. He ran for over 2,000 yards in 2012, in an injury-shortened season last year ran for almost 1,300 yards. Beyond all the off-season stuff, when it comes down to what happens in NFL front offices, that's a matter of pure talent. And, really, don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
BL: You have also pointed out that under the NFL’s new conduct policy and the agreement that placed Peterson on the commissioner’s exempt list, the league should have already sentenced Peterson to “time served” and cleared him to return to his team. What would time served mean in this case and why hasn't that happened?
DF: Well, time served in this case would mean the six-game suspension. As I said, he's already missed eight. The issue is that he was on a paid suspension, and under the NFL's new rules it would be an unpaid. So, what I believe is going to happen after this hearing on Monday is, he's going to serve a one- or two-game unpaid suspension and then he'll be back on the field.
BL: Looking beyond the individuals we've discussed and the crimes that they have committed, should we expect more changes to the NFL’s policy on domestic violence issues in the coming months?
DF: And see, Bill, this is where I really struggle with what the NFL has done, because Roger Goodell, the NFL commissioner, has been entirely reactive about this whole thing. I don't believe the NFL has had anywhere near the level of sensitivity they need to have on this issue. I'm not a huge fan of Roger Goodell as a guy who will instigate change in the league. Now, he has put together different panels, different focus groups, but is it more about P.R. than actual change? I don't know.
This segment aired on November 15, 2014.