2:33pm: Unsurprisingly, the Players Association doesn’t view Henderson as the independent arbitrator the union requested. “A long-time NFL executive and current legal consultant cannot, by definition, be a neutral arbitrator,” said the NFLPA in a statement on Henderson’s appointment, per Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk (Twitter link).
1:43pm: The NFLPA called for a neutral arbitrator, rather than league commissioner Roger Goodell, to be the hearing officer in Adrian Peterson‘s case when the Vikings running back appealed his suspension earlier this week, and Goodell has indeed agreed to delegate the responsibility. According to Jay Glazer of FOX Sports (via Twitter), it will be Harold Henderson – and not Goodell – who will hear Peterson’s appeal on December 2.
While the fact that Goodell won’t hear Peterson’s appeal is something of a win for the running back and for the NFLPA, it’s reasonable to argue that Henderson himself isn’t entirely neutral — as Glazer notes (via Twitter), Henderson is a retired former NFL executive who ran the league’s management council. Henderson was the arbitrator for Josh Gordon‘s appeal earlier this year, and ruled against the Browns receiver, upholding his season-long suspension, which was later reduced to 10 games.
When Henderson was appointed to Gordon’s case, it was viewed as a bad sign for the Browns wideout, with one source telling Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com that “you would have a better chance of convincing your teacher your dog ate your homework” than convincing Henderson that Gordon’s failed drug tests were a result of second-hand smoke. After Henderson upheld Gordon’s suspension, Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report described him as a man who doesn’t believe in excuses, and one who recognized that Gordon needed to be strictly disciplined.
In other words, if Henderson approaches Peterson’s personal conduct policy violation the same way as he approached Gordon’s drug policy violation, it doesn’t bode well for the Vikings running back’s chances of getting his penalty reduced.