As expected, the NFL Players Association has issued a statement in response to the punishment imposed earlier in the day on four members of the 2009-11 Saints. As expected, the NFLPA disagrees with the suspensions of Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma (one year), Packers defensive end Anthony Hargrove (eight games), Saints defensive end Will Smith (four games), and Brown linebacker Scott Fujita (three games).
“After seeing the NFL’s decision letters, the NFLPA has still not received any detailed or specific evidence from the league of these specific players’ involvement in an alleged pay-to-injure program,” the union said. “We have made it clear that punishment without evidence is not fair. We have spoken with our players and their representatives and we will vigorously protect and pursue all options on their behalf.”
As a threshold matter, “vigorous protection” includes an immediate appeal of the decision. (More on that soon.)
Regarding the NFLPA’s allegation that “detailed or specific evidence” has not been received, the question is whether the NFL didn’t give the union anything, whether the union hasn’t given everything, and/or whether what the league has provided has been regarded as deficient. Either way, here’s hoping that all of the evidence comes out, so that the public can assess whether or not the suspensions were indeed justified.