Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson's suspension has been upheld on appeal, the NFL announced Friday.
"I conclude that the player has not demonstrated that the process and procedures surrounding his discipline were not fair and consistent," appeals officer Harold Henderson said in a statement, CBS Sports reported. "He was afforded all the protections and rights to which he is entitled, and I find no basis to vacate or reduce the discipline."
Peterson was placed on the commissioner's exempt list on Sept. 17 after he was arrested in Texas on a charge of recklessly injuring his 4-year-old son after striking the boy with a wooden switch. Peterson claimed he never intended to hurt his son and was only disciplining him.
The case revived a debate about corporal punishment, which is on the decline in the U.S. but still widely practiced in homes and schools.
Peterson and the NFL Players Association appealed the decision last month. Losing the appeal means Peterson will forfeit more than $4 million.
The NFLPA released a statement following Peterson's denied appeal: "The NFLPA expected this outcome, given the hearing officer's relationship and financial ties to the NFL. The decision itself ignores the facts, the evidence and the collective bargaining agreement. This decision also represents the NFL's repeated failure to adhere to due process and confirms its inconsistent treatment of players. Our union is considering immediate legal remedies."
According to NFL Insider Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, Peterson will likely take the case to federal court in hopes of being reinstated before April 15, 2015, the start of the NFL calendar.
In an interview with USA Today in late November, Peterson said he realized moving on from the Vikings might be best for both him and the team. Peterson added that he had only recently spoken to his son for the first time in five months.
He told the newspaper he "won't ever use a switch again," that he has been seeing a therapist and meeting a pastor certified in counseling near his Houston-area home, and has learned other ways to discipline his children.