Three-member Appeals Panel Has Overturned New Orleans Saints Player Suspensions

By Michael Collins

Anyone who follows the NFL and the New Orleans Saints had to know that something like this would probably come just before the start of the Saints regular season, and here it is:

Sports Illustrated‘s Jim Trotter is reporting that a 3-member appeals panel has overturned the Saints’ player suspensions in the bounty case. It has not been made clear yet if this applies to all players involved in the case, or just the current New Orleans players.

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According to Trotter, “The Decision says Goodell can reconsider discipline only if there is evidence of intent to injure beyond just a performance pool, per source.”

What does all this mean? Your guess is as good as Roger Goodell‘s.

The Bountygate scandal is began it’s long winding road in the American legal system last month, when lawyers for the NFL, NFLPA, and Jonathan Vilma appeared for the second time in front of Judge Helen Berrigan in federal court in the Eastern District of Louisiana. Vilma and the NFLPA wanted an immediate ruling vacating the players’ suspensions, and the NFL wanted all of the cases pending against the NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell – including Vilma’s defamation suit – to be immediately dismissed.

Neither party got what they wanted.

Judge Berrigan did make it fairly clear that she thought the NFL was in the wrong, and she was even bold enough to begin the hearing by saying that she’d “like to rule in Vilma’s favor.” She stated several times that she believed commissioner Goodell overstepped his bounds in disciplining the players, and that Vilma’s punishment was unnecessarily harsh.

The judge also strongly suggested, without making a formal ruling, that the bounty scheme was a pay-for-performance issue covered by Article 14 of the CBA, which would have meant an arbitrator rather than the commissioner would have had jurisdiction over the issues in the case.  The judge then ordered the case to be heard by the 3-member appeals panel, and suggested the parties work things out in a settlement.

Now that the panel has apparently ruled, the ball goes back to Goodell’s court, and he must reexamine all the facts and findings and come up with a punishment deemed more appropriate by the courts.

Nothing more than another example of how people – regardless of profession or social status – refuse to take responsibility for their actions, and want to lay the blame on others or completely dodge all consequences.

At this time, there has been no response from the NFL or the commissioner’s office.

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