[Editor’s note: The NFL has issued a statement in response to the grievances filed by the NFLPA in response to suspensions imposed upon four players, Jonathan Vilma, Will Smith, Anthony Hargrove, and Scott Fujita. The full text appears below.]
On May 2, Commissioner Goodell suspended four current or former New Orleans Saints players for conduct detrimental to the integrity of and public confidence in the NFL based on their participation in the pay-for-performance/bounty program that operated during the 2009-2011 seasons.
Last night, the NFLPA initiated two arbitration proceedings challenging the suspensions. The proceedings do not challenge the underlying facts, which were first shared with the union more than two months ago after being obtained from Saints executives, coaches, players, and others. The proceedings also do not challenge the reasonableness of the discipline imposed by the commissioner.
In one proceeding, the union seeks immunity for the four suspended players, a position it never advanced during months of discussion on this matter. In the other, the union argues that someone other than the commissioner should have imposed the discipline.
We expect that the arbitrators will 1) reject the union’s efforts to protect players from accountability for prohibited and dangerous conduct directed against other players and 2) uphold the disciplinary process that was so carefully negotiated in the Collective Bargaining less than a year ago.