Players Association Sues NFL Over “Bounty” Case
July 6—The NFL Players Association has decided to sue on behalf of three players connected with the New Orleans Saints’ infamous “bounty” program.
The suit comes after NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell rejected appeals from four suspended players connected with the investigation.
In a ruling on Tuesday, Goodell welcomed personal explanations from Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma, defensive end Will Smith, Packers defensive end Anthony Hargrove, and Browns linebacker Scott Fujita, but kept their suspensions intact. He reserved the right to reduce their punishments should new information exonerate them.
Goodell cited the players’ silence on the matter as the primary reason behind his ruling. “Throughout this entire process, including your appeals, and despite repeated invitations and encouragement to do so, none of you have offered any evidence that would warrant reconsideration of your suspensions,” he said.
According to NFL.com, the players have decided not to meet with the commissioner due to his public statements on the case. Those statements, they argue, indicate he would not be a neutral party and violate the spirit of the League’s collective bargaining agreement. They also believe he lacks jurisdiction to issue a ruling. The Players Association has called Goodell “incurably and evidently biased” on the matter.
Vilma, who is not part of the Players Association action, has already filed two lawsuits in New Orleans federal court, one of them being a defamation suit against Goodell. Fujita previously called the NFL’s handling of the situation a “public smear campaign” in an interview with the Associated Press, and all of the accused have denied paying their teammates to injure opposing players.
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