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Why Mediation Would Benefit In The Adrian Peterson Saga

If you have been following the current saga between Adrian Peterson, The Minnesota Vikings, and the NFL, then you already know that Peterson is making a reluctant return to the only team he’s known since being drafted into the NFL.  Here is a summary of what has happened so far.  Peterson was charged with child abuse for whipping his son with a switch (a small thin tree branch).  The incident occurred before the NFL enacted a conduct code for NFL players.  However, the NFL applied punishment under this code to Peterson’s incident placing him on the commissioner’s exempt list which essentially means, Peterson is suspended without pay from the NFL indefinitely.  Peterson called “flag on the play” and the case goes to arbitration.  The arbitrator upheld the NFL’s decision to suspend Peterson.  In the background to all of this, Ray Rice had recently had a NFL decision for indefinite suspension overturned via arbitration and Rice was reinstated to play…immediately.  With that said, Peterson was hoping for a different outcome and the arbitrated case goes to appeal months later and the arbitrator’s decision is vacated, mainly on the grounds that the decision to suspend Peterson was based on the NFL’s and the arbitrator’s attempt to incorrectly apply the NFL Player’s Code of Conduct retroactively, a direct violation of the CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement). 

As all of this is happening, tapes were released of conversations between Peterson and The Vikings personnel where he is clearly seeking help and support.  Minnesota, for the most part, didn’t challenge the NFL’s original decision and felt that the situation might “work itself out” similar to the Ray Rice ordeal.  They clearly thought Peterson would be back playing in no time and for that reason, Minnesota Vikings management remained relatively silent throughout the whole ordeal.  Peterson has been inactive for a year.  We have recently heard the stories about Peterson’s agent vehemently accosting Vikings management stating that “his client will never ever play for Minnesota ever again…,”which, in the words of Nina Mierding, negotiation expert, was an X move, a move that is commonly played in what’s known as the X-Y game in negotiations.  We also heard where Vikings personnel made a last ditch effort visit to Peterson’s home in Texas in hopes of talking and salvaging the relationship.  We also know that as of now, Peterson has been reinstated by the NFL and is expected to return to the Vikings even though he has cried out to be traded because he felt abandoned by the team in his time of need.  We also know that two teams, The Dallas Cowboys and The Arizona Cardinals, are rumored to want to horse trade for AP’s services but the Vikings have said that they will not trade Adrian.  However, we know that this is the NFL and everyone has a price.  This is where we currently stand. 

A mediator could be effective in helping Peterson, Vikings personnel/management, the NFL, and some other team reach a lasting trade agreement and in the process save the relationship.  A facilitated negotiation by a mediator could effectively get all parties to the table in a neutral zone to talk and discuss feelings, fears, and needs leading to understanding and a resolution to the current conflict.  This peaceful resolution could alleviate the current fan angst surrounding the cloud of mystery of where Peterson might end up and it could prevent potential training camp holdout scenarios.  All constituents involved win and winning is what the NFL wants.


Renita Spotser

Renita Renae Spotser is a current Masters of Arts student in the Dispute Resolution Program at Southern Methodist University’s Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development.  She aspires to practice sports mediation upon completing her degree in December of 2016. She currently holds a MBA in Sports &… MORE >

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