In a former life, I always encouraged clients to attend important hearings, since it demonstrates to the person making the decision that the person about whom the decision is being made takes the situation seriously and cares deeply about the outcome.
Regardless of their motivation, that’s the message Browns linebacker Scott Fujita and Packers defensive end Anthony Hargrove have sent by personally attending the grievance hearing before Shayam Das, according to Albert Breer of NFL.com.
The two current Saints who face bounty-related suspensions are not present. Per Breer, linebacker Jonathan Vilma decided to remain with the team for offseason workouts. (It’s unknown why Smith didn’t attend.)
Their absence doesn’t mean they don’t care. Given that Vilma and Smith play for the team that was hit hardest by the penalties, it makes sense for them to choose to stay at the workouts over attending the grievance hearing. They already believe they’re facing unwarranted suspensions; why make it worse by missing the limited opportunities in the offseason to get ready for the regular season?
Das is taking up two questions — whether the new CBA waives the ability to impose discipline for anything happening before August 4, 2011 and whether the appeals should be handled not by Commissioner Roger Goodell but by Ted Cottrell or Art Shell, who review decisions regarding on-field discipline. As explained during Wednesday’s PFT Live, Hargrove may have the best luck under the latter argument, since the other three players have been suspended not for acting on a potential bounty but for funding and/or managing the bounty pool.