MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s letter to Adrian Peterson last year spelled out the reasons for his suspension and the conditions for his reinstatement in cold, unsympathetic terms.
The league boss sounded much warmer toward the Vikings running back on Sunday, with Peterson resettled in Minnesota following the child abuse case that kept him out for almost all of last season.
“He’s an extraordinary player and a wonderful young man,” Goodell said. “I was very impressed with all my meetings with Adrian. He’s an individual that took it seriously and said, ‘I want to be better.’ I think he’s taking great advantage of that opportunity.”
Goodell was in Minnesota, a scheduled visit for the game against Green Bay. He spoke to reporters after a question-and-answer session with 75 selected season-ticket holders, before touring the construction site of the team’s new stadium that’s about 80 percent complete and set to open next year.
Peterson was put on paid leave then suspended under the NFL’s disputed personal conduct policy. He was reinstated by Goodell in April.
Asked in retrospect if the NFL should have handled any part of the matter differently, Goodell said yes, without being specific.
“That’s why we redid our personal conduct policy. That’s why we spent so much time evaluating how we do that,” Goodell said. “And a lot of attention goes on the discipline, but what we’ve really spent most of our time on: What kind of services can we provide? What kind of education can we provide to prevent these things? And to make sure that our players, our coaches, our executives, every one of us, upholds the standards but also understands how to make better decisions.”
Peterson leads the league in rushing by a large margin with 961 yards entering the game against the Packers that Goodell planned to watch from the seats on a brisk afternoon, with the temperature in the low 30s. The Vikings have been playing outdoors at the University of Minnesota until the new $1 billion-plus stadium is done.
On other subjects:
— Goodell said the NFL has been considering breaking up officiating crews during the season to seek more consistency in the number of penalties called during games, whether shuffling week to week or season by season.
“If fouls are occurring, they should call more fouls. But over a season, that should start to become pretty level,” Goodell said.
The possibility of full-time officials is still being evaluated, Goodell said.
— Goodell laughed when asked how long he thought a receiver should have to hold the ball to complete a catch, perhaps the league’s most controversial and confusing rule these days.
“We debated that in the office the last couple weeks,” Goodell said. “I think what we’re going to do is get some people to focus on evaluating every one of these, and we’ll see.”
He added: “That’s something we need to look at, again.”
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