At a time when the bounty case has slipped from the middle of the NFL’s radar screen, have no fear. It’s coming back.
On Wednesday, Special Master Stephen Burbank will take up the question of whether the Collective Bargaining Agreement diverts the entire process away from the desk of Commissioner Roger Goodell. The players contend that, to the extent the penalties arise from alleged salary cap violations, Burbank has exclusive jurisdiction over the controversy.
The hearing will come two weeks to the day after arbitrator Shyam Das took up the question of whether the new CBA blocks Goodell from taking action against any player for alleged misconduct occurring before August 4, 2011. Das also is considering the argument that, to the extent the penalties arise from on-field infractions, Ted Cottrell or Art Shell should handle the appeals.
It’s unknown when Burbank will issue a ruling. He heard the Cowboys/Redskins salary cap grievance on May 11, and he issued a ruling 11 days later. Per a source with knowledge of the situation, there has been no indication from Das as to when a ruling on the other grievance will be coming.
Hanging in the balance are suspensions that Goodell has imposed on four players: Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma (one season), Packers defensive end Anthony Hargrove (eight games), Saints defensive end Will Smith (four games), and browns linebacker Scott Fujita (two games). Fujita and Hargrove personally attended the May 16 hearing before Das.