Adrian Peterson's immediate future in the NFL returns to Minnesota Friday morning, but his fate won't be decided on a football field. Instead the battle over Peterson's playing future will take place in a Minneapolis courtroom.
The NFL Players Association is asking a federal court judge to overturn Peterson's suspension from the NFL.
In November, Peterson was suspended until at least April 15th by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after the Vikings running back pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor assault charge stemming from accusations that he whipped his 4-year-old son with a switch.
The NFLPA filed the lawsuit after an arbitrator sided with the league during Peterson's appeal.
But the case could be about a lot more than just Peterson's playing future – many think it could set a precedent for future NFL disciplinary cases.
"This case is viewed by many as a stalking horse for other legal battles between the players union and the league," said Minneapolis employment lawyer Marshall Tanick to the Star Tribune. "The stakes are big for both sides."
According to USA Today Sports, a person close to Peterson said the running back is expected to attend the hearing, but is not likely to make a statement in court.
The union is expected to argue that arbitrator Harold Henderson – who spent roughly two decades working for the NFL – was not impartial and that the retroactive application of the league's new personal conduct policy defies the collective bargaining agreement.
The NFL will argue the union's case is based on arguments that were "all considered and specifically rejected in the arbitration proceeding."
Federal arbitrator Roger Abrams, who resolves salary disputes between Major League Baseball players and teams, thinks it will be an uphill battle for Peterson and the union.
"I do suspect the union will end up losing this case, and that Judge [David] Doty will determine the commissioner has the right to make this decision under the powers of his office," said Abrams to the Pioneer Press.
A person with knowledge of the situation told the Pioneer Press that if that happens Peterson will not appeal.