NFL Exempt List: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Adrian Peterson

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Facing backlash from their fan base and a potential revolt from at least one key sponsor, the Minnesota Vikings did a 180-degree reversal early Wednesday morning and banned Adrian Peterson from team activities.

The Vikings announced Monday that they would let Peterson play as the legal process worked its way out following Peterson’s indictment on felony child abuse charges.

But after one key sponsor suspended its support of the team and another issued a statement criticizing the NFL, the team announced it was putting Peterson on an obscure list called the exempt/commissioner’s permission list.

Here’s what you need to know about the list and the ramifications of Peterson being on it:


1. The Exempt List Bans Peterson From Team Activities & Facilities

adrian peterson

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Peterson is barred from all team activities and facilities while he’s on the exempt list. Peterson’s agent told the Associated Press that the move allows Peterson to “take care of his personal situation.”

The agent, Ben Dogra, told the AP:

This is the best possible outcome given the circumstances. Adrian understands the gravity of the situation and this enables him to take care of his personal situation. We fully support Adrian and he looks forward to watching his teammates and coaches being successful during his absence.

The NFL issued a similar statement to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport:

This is a good decision that will allow Adrian Peterson to resolve his personal situation and the Vikings to return the focus to the football field.


2. Peterson Will Get Paid His Full Salary While on the List

Adrian Peterson Video Highlights

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Teams have the option of paying or not paying players placed on the exempt list. The Vikings opted to keep paying Peterson, meaning he’ll collect his full $11.5 million salary.


3. Michael Vick Was on the Exempt List in 2009

Adrian Peterson, Michael Vick

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There’s very limited precedent for putting players on the exempt list. The only previous example mentioned by NFL.com’s Gregg Rosenthal is one involving Michael Vick, whom the Eagles placed on the exempt list after signing him in 2009 following Vick’s prison sentence for dogfighting.

The Eagles placed Vick on the exempt list while the NFL reviewed his situation and later officially reinstated him. He was then put on the active roster.


4. The League Office Told the Vikings the Exempt List Was an Option

Roger Goodell

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The Vikings said team executives had lengthy discussions about Peterson’s status late into the night Tuesday and into Wednesday morning. Team officials consulted with people in the NFL office, and NFL execs brought up the possibility of putting Peterson on the exempt list.

From the Vikings’ statement:

This has been an ongoing and deliberate process since last Friday’s news. In conversations with the NFL over the last two days, the Vikings advised the League of the team’s decision to revisit the situation regarding Adrian Peterson. In response, the League informed the team of the option to place Adrian on the Exempt/Commissioner’s Permission list, which will require that Adrian remain away from all team activities while allowing him to take care of his personal situation until the legal proceedings are resolved. After giving the situation additional thought, we have decided this is the appropriate course of action for the organization and for Adrian.


5.The Team Admitted That Advertisers’ Protests Played a Role in the Decision

Shortly after the Vikings announced Monday that Peterson had been re-activated, Minnesota-based Radisson Hotels — a Vikings sponsor whose name is on the backdrop present at Vikings press conferences — announced it was suspending its limited sponsorship of the team.

On Tuesday, Anheuser Busch, which is half-way through a $1.2 billion advertising deal with the NFL, issued a statement criticizing the NFL for its handling of recent off-the-field issues and saying it was not yet satisfied with the league’s response.

Peterson’s indictment on child abuse charges came less than two weeks after TMZ published a video showing Ravens running back Ray Rice punching out his fiancee in an Atlantic City elevator. The league has also come under intense criticism of its handling of the domestic violence conviction of Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy, whom the team de-activated in Week 2 after letting him play despite the conviction in Week 1.

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