Adrian Peterson: Minnesota Vikings running back suspended without pay for at least the rest of the season by the NFL

Vikings star has missed all nine games so far this season after disciplining son

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The NFL have suspended Minnesota Vikings star Adrian Peterson without pay for at least the rest of the 2014 season.

Peterson, 29, has been suspended since the start of the season after disciplining his four-year-old son with a tree-branch. Peterson pleaded no contest to misdemeanour reckless assault charges, reaching a plea bargain earlier this month that meant he avoided jail time.

His suspension will mean he will not be considered for reinstatement until April 2015.

In a lengthy letter to Peterson, League commissioner Roger Goodell wrote: "The timing of your potential reinstatement will be based on the results of the counseling and treatment program set forth in this decision.

"Under this two-step approach, the precise length of the suspension will depend on your actions. We are prepared to put in place a program that can help you to succeed, but no program can succeed without your genuine and continuing engagement. You must commit yourself to your counseling and rehabilitative effort, properly care for your children, and have no further violations of law or league policy."

Peterson and the NFL Players' Association appealed the decision.

Goodell continued: "First, the injury was inflicted on a child who was only four years old. The difference in size and strength between you and the child is significant, and your actions clearly caused physical injury to the child.

"While an adult may have a number of options when confronted with abuse – to flee, to fight back, or to seek help from law enforcement – none of those options is realistically available to a four-year old child. Further, the injury inflicted on your son includes the emotional and psychological trauma to a young child who suffers criminal physical abuse at the hands of his father.

"Second, the repetitive use of a switch in this instance is the functional equivalent of a weapon, particularly in the hands of someone with the strength of an accomplished professional athlete.

"Third, you have shown no meaningful remorse for your conduct. When indicted, you acknowledged what you did but said that you would not ‘eliminate whooping my kids’ and defended your conduct in numerous published text messages to the child’s mother. You also said that you felt ‘very confident with my actions because I know my intent.’

"These comments raise the serious concern that you do not fully appreciate the seriousness of your conduct, or even worse, that you may feel free to engage in similar conduct in the future."