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Appeals court rules NFL was within rights to suspend Adrian Peterson in 2014

Wild Card Round - Seattle Seahawks v Minnesota Vikings

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JANUARY 10: Kam Chancellor #31 of the Seattle Seahawks attempts to tackle Adrian Peterson #28 of the Minnesota Vikings in the first quarter during the NFC Wild Card Playoff game at TCFBank Stadium on January 10, 2016 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

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In February 2015, Judge David Doty ruled that the NFL and arbitrator Harold Henderson overstepped their bounds when Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was suspended indefinitely (a suspension upheld by Henderson) and fined six paychecks after he pleaded no contest in November 2014 to reckless assault to settle charges that he abused his son.

That ruling paved the way to Peterson’s reinstatement after he spent all but one game of the 2014 season on the exempt list after the abuse allegations came to light. The NFL appealed the ruling on the grounds that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was within his rights to suspend Peterson under the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with the NFL on Thursday. In their decision, which was obtained by, the court found that “the parties bargained to be bound by the decision of the arbitrator, and the arbitrator acted within his authority, so we reverse the district court’s judgment vacating the arbitration decision.” The decision also rejected the NFLPA argument that the penalty being “fundamentally unfair” takes precedence over the powers given to the league under the CBA.

The decision has no impact on Peterson’s eligibility to play, only whether the league has the right to collect the fine. Joined with the decision on the Tom Brady appeal in the Second Circuit, it also serves to reinforce Goodell’s power to impose discipline under the current CBA.