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Burbank rejects bounty grievance

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The last time Stephen Burbank was asked to resolve a dispute under the new CBA, a decision came in 11 days.  This time, he moved even faster.

Five days after a hearing was held on the question of whether the discipline imposed on four players connected to the Saints alleged bounty system falls within Burbank’s sole jurisdiction under the labor deal, a source with knowledge of the situation tells PFT that Burbank has rejected the players’ argument.

The four players who have been suspended (Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma, Saints defensive end Will Smith, Browns linebacker Scott Fujita, and Packers defensive end Anthony Hargrove) and the NFLPA argued that, to the extent the penalties arise from alleged salary-cap violations, the CBA gives full and exclusive authority to Burbank for determining whether or not the rules regarding paying players were broken.

And so Burbank will not be interfering with the discipline process, which the NFL believes should continue with appeal hearings before Commissioner Roger Goodell.

Under the CBA, the decision is subject to appeal, not to any outside court but to an internal appeals panel.  It’s unclear at this point whether an appeal will be pursued, but it would not be a surprise if it happens.

Still pending is a separate grievance filed before arbitrator Shyam Das, who has been asked to decide whether the new CBA prevents Goodell from imposing any discipline on players for conduct occurring before it was signed, and also whether the appeals should be handled by Ted Cottrell or Art Shell, who have been jointly appointed by the NFL and the NFLPA to review discipline imposed by Goodell for on-field misconduct.

As to Burbank, who ruled last month that the Cowboys and Redskins had no basis under the labor deal to challenge a combined $46 million in salary-cap penalties, his name will once again fade into the woodwork, until the next time the league or the union has a matter that needs to be addressed by the man who holds the always-enviable title of “Special Master.”

UPDATE 10:12 a.m. ET:  Technically, Burbank has retained jurisdiction over Hargrove’s argument, explaining that the letter from Goodell explaining Hargrove’s suspension doesn’t specify the nature of the rules he violated.  In so doing, Burbank also gives the NFL a fairly clear road map for avoiding problems, and the league already has seized on that language by explaining in a press release that Hargrove was suspended for lying to investigators and obstructing the NFL’s investigation.

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31 Responses to “Burbank rejects bounty grievance”
  1. couldntthinkofaname says: Jun 4, 2012 9:11 AM

    Gee, when the IRS tries to determine if this is a tax issue in the future, I wonder how THAT will go for these guys. I’m guessing about as well as this did.

  2. taintedlombardis says: Jun 4, 2012 9:13 AM

    Surprise!

  3. doe22us says: Jun 4, 2012 9:15 AM

    Ouch, Vilma et al are clutching at straws from here on out.

  4. wwwfella says: Jun 4, 2012 9:17 AM

    Wait Burbank sided with the league…STOP THE DAM PRESSES!!!!!!

  5. bigjdve says: Jun 4, 2012 9:18 AM

    At least Burbank got this one right.

    Hopefully the other one DAS gets his correct as well, or at least if he doesn’t hopefully Art or Ted will make the punishments harder than Goodell so that they players will stop this crap of trying to circumvent their penalties.

  6. feck12a says: Jun 4, 2012 9:18 AM

    burbank is the nfl’s puppet. He will never rule against them. google his name he has had many cases overturned in the past.

  7. JaminJake says: Jun 4, 2012 9:20 AM

    You mean Burbank didn’t disagree with his “Special Master?” I’m shocked.

  8. jwalters121 says: Jun 4, 2012 9:23 AM

    Hey Goodell, how much is it costing you to keep Burbank in your back pocket?

  9. somatg3 says: Jun 4, 2012 9:25 AM

    Someone needs to give Drew Brees an explanation…. and when can NFL network or ESPN interview a bunch of Saints D players to deny there was a bounty system? Ho hum, Saints need to take their lumps and move on, this is getting ridiculous.

  10. kadeeu says: Jun 4, 2012 9:28 AM

    Lets see, the league doesn’t want to held accountable for their collusion prior to the new deal with the NFLPA, but they want to hold players accountable for their conduct prior to the new CBA. The NFLPA needs better lawyers.

  11. 6thsense79 says: Jun 4, 2012 9:47 AM

    Kadeeu,

    You hit it right on the nose. The Dee Smith era has not gone too well for the players. How he allowed the players to lock into a 10 year deal with virtually 0 due process in a situation like Vilma’s is a little amazing to me. The fact that he signed away any rights to take the NFL to court for collusion during the uncapped year when there were signs during that year that something fishy was going on is also strange.

    The way the NFL handled both the collusion and Saints situation is distasteful and arrogant. But the NFLPA gave them that power. They’re like gold fish trying to swim with sharks.

  12. watchfullhose says: Jun 4, 2012 9:48 AM

    Exactly, @kadeeu!
    They can’t have it both ways.

  13. jedidev says: Jun 4, 2012 9:54 AM

    couldntthinkofaname says:Jun 4, 2012 9:11 AM

    Gee, when the IRS tries to determine if this is a tax issue in the future, I wonder how THAT will go for these guys. I’m guessing about as well as this did.

    ————————-

    Wow, so some multi-millionaires are going to have to pay 35% of a few thousand dollars (at most) plus penalties and interest after filing an amended return?

    Yeah, those guys are screwed!

  14. uwsptke says: Jun 4, 2012 9:58 AM

    Shyam Das better watch out. The last time he issued a ruling as an arbitrator that a professional sports league didn’t like (threw out Ryan Braun’s suspension) he was fired by MLB.

  15. kcsuperbowlbound says: Jun 4, 2012 9:59 AM

    Vilma’s lawyer is going to suck the remaining money from his bank account and after he loses all of his appeals and lawsuits he will be homeless hanging out at the french quarter….On the bright side I would give him a buck just for being an ex football player..

  16. nflfan555 says: Jun 4, 2012 10:07 AM

    The Saints are now the officially most hated team in the NFL

  17. chachanola says: Jun 4, 2012 10:17 AM

    ”’Wow the “special master” gets paid how? Is it contracted to be the problem solver or on a per problem basis? looks as shady and quick as yhe districct attorney who was yeah whole heartdly the league as is right. players, your next CBA pay more attention to how you are treated and disciplined instead of seeing $’s. Its better to stand for something, then fall for anything. And when someone consisitently uses the cause I said so approach with no real evidence or anything.,.they have too much power.

  18. eagleswin says: Jun 4, 2012 10:18 AM

    feck12a says:
    Jun 4, 2012 9:18 AM
    burbank is the nfl’s puppet. He will never rule against them. google his name he has had many cases overturned in the past.

    ———————————————

    In November 2002, a federal court appointed Burbank special master of the National Football League. In that role, he resolves certain categories of disputes between the NFL Players Association and the NFL Management Council under a consent decree and collective bargaining agreement.

    If the players don’t like Burbank, maybe they should stop asking the judicial system to get involved at every opportunity. Other than Judge Doty, it hasn’t been very kind to them. It is ridiculous how they always try to get Doty, and only Doty, to hear their cases. Then again the appeals court hasn’t been kind to Judge Doty either.

  19. eagleswin says: Jun 4, 2012 10:23 AM

    Just to cutoff the mindless drones who will still parrot that they still have not heard anyone admit to bounties, below is the last paragraph of the Saints press release regarding the bounties :

    To our fans, the NFL and the rest of our league, we offer our sincere apology and take full responsibility for these serious violations. It has always been the goal of the New Orleans Saints to create a model franchise and to impact our league in a positive manner. There is no place for bounties in our league and we reiterate our pledge that this will never happen again.

  20. effedinLA says: Jun 4, 2012 10:31 AM

    nflfan555 says:
    Jun 4, 2012 10:07 AM
    The Saints are now the officially most hated team in the NFL
    +++++++++++++++++++
    For some reason I still hate the Cowboys more. Americas team my a$$!

  21. robf2010 says: Jun 4, 2012 10:44 AM

    “The Saints are now the officially most hated team in the NFL”

    Do they get a plaque or something for that? Maybe a banner to hang from the rafters?

  22. sixjak says: Jun 4, 2012 10:47 AM

    Yeah, you can say that again. ;)

  23. mjkelly77 says: Jun 4, 2012 11:18 AM

    … the man who holds the always-enviable title of “Special Master.”
    _________________

    Special Master. That’s what a girlfriend of mine from years ago used to call me.

  24. mjkelly77 says: Jun 4, 2012 11:23 AM

    kadeeu says:Jun 4, 2012 9:28 AM

    Lets see, the league doesn’t want to held accountable for their collusion prior to the new deal with the NFLPA, but they want to hold players accountable for their conduct prior to the new CBA. The NFLPA needs better lawyers.
    ________________

    Again, another totally lost soul regarding this issue. The players abrogated their right to assert collusion by signing the new CBA.

  25. mjkelly77 says: Jun 4, 2012 11:27 AM

    6thsense79 says:Jun 4, 2012 9:47 AM

    Kadeeu,
    … The Dee Smith era has not gone too well for the players. How he allowed the players to lock into a 10 year deal with virtually 0 due process in a situation like Vilma’s is a little amazing to me. The fact that he signed away any rights to take the NFL to court for collusion during the uncapped year when there were signs during that year that something fishy was going on is also strange.
    _________________

    If I wanted to be imprisoned for a crime that I did not commit, I’d have that p!mp, Maurice Smith represent me. He’s a stingy-brim wearin’, impeddy-dimp street idiot.

  26. mjkelly77 says: Jun 4, 2012 11:31 AM

    watchfullhose says:Jun 4, 2012 9:48 AM

    Exactly, @kadeeu!
    They can’t have it both ways.
    ________________

    Apparently, the league can have it both ways. There’s a contractual agreement that says so that was signed by the players who were led by an idiot.

  27. thejuddstir says: Jun 4, 2012 1:31 PM

    I think the NFL should contract the Taints and play with 31 teams. The Taints are making a mockery out of the NFL and it’s time for it to stop. Technicalities aside, I don’t care what the “meaning of is is”, it’s time the other 31 owners tell Goodell to increase the penalties on the team, coaches and players if this nonsense continues.

  28. gridironmike says: Jun 4, 2012 1:59 PM

    Whenever I want thoughtful and insightful football commentary, I turn to someone named “kcsuperbowlbound”.

    That name hasn’t been relevant since 1970.

  29. jedidev says: Jun 4, 2012 2:02 PM

    All this ruling does is to state that the violations in question are NOT salary-cap violations. Which makes sense, since the pool was player funded with fines for mental errors, illegal hits and probably for showing up to meetings late.

    The implications are simply that Goodell is the proper forum for issuing the punishments, and probably for hearing the appeals. They are probably screwed on this front as Goodell will likely say,”Hmm, I’ve just reviewed all of the one-sided pseudo evidence I gathered or fabricated and…you guys are guilty as sin! Appeal denied.”

    Of course, there’s still the outstanding grievance that Goodell signed away his right to even make these punishments because of the CBA and the fact that all strong allegations point to the year 2009.

    I don’t see the punishments to Fujita or Hargrove standing because of this technicality, and I would like to think that those for Will Smith and Jon Vilma should only be upheld after proving that the PFP program actually continued into 2010 and 2011, but who am I kidding? It won’t matter if it did or didn’t. Goodell will claim that it did, and that he has evidence of it (read: vague statements that can be percieved as such when it supports what you’re looking for, or testimony from a disgruntled ex-employee…definitely the most reliable source). Goodell’s word is as good as gold to so many other fans – even though he’s already proven to be willing to blatantly lie about what evidence he may actually have (Hargrove statement, Williams’ statement having been rejected and re-written by the NFL to fit whatever their agenda is, threats made to the Saints’ staff to coerce them into capitulating, word games that lead the media into drawing the wrong conclusions without technically lying themselves, etc). I just don’t understand how anyone can still trust him.

    So far I haven’t heard anything from the NFL front office to indicate that the Saints did continue the PFP program into 2010 and 2011 (and don’t quote the Ornstein emails), though there may be some innuendo one can use for weak “evidence” if damning the Saints is part of your agenda.

    (Please reply with statements or facts I may have forgotten, that would support this)

  30. jedidev says: Jun 4, 2012 2:08 PM

    mjkelly77 says:Jun 4, 2012 11:23 AM

    Again, another totally lost soul regarding this issue. The players abrogated their right to assert collusion prior to 2011 by signing the new CBA.

    ________________

    (FIFY)

    You mean, just like the NFL abrogated their right to punish players for all actions prior to the signing of the new CBA in 2011? But they did it anyway.

    Perhaps pointing out this hypocricy is exactly the point of the NFLPA’s suit and it just bounced right off of your thick skull?
    If the NFL can punish the players, then the NFLPA can sue for collusion. Does that not stand to reason?

  31. truthserum4u says: Jun 5, 2012 7:35 AM

    jedidev says:Jun 4, 2012 2:08 PM

    (FIFY)

    You mean, just like the NFL abrogated their right to punish players for all actions prior to the signing of the new CBA in 2011? But they did it anyway.

    Perhaps pointing out this hypocricy is exactly the point of the NFLPA’s suit and it just bounced right off of your thick skull?
    If the NFL can punish the players, then the NFLPA can sue for collusion. Does that not stand to reason?

    ———————————-

    No it doesn’t stand to reason because it’s specifically covered in the CBA that the NFLPA cannot sue on anything prior to August 2011. According to numerous attorney’s commenting on this case, the article in the CBA refers only to the NFLPA being restricted from action going back before Aug 2011 and not the NFL. They said they couldn’t find anything that specifically mentions any restrictions for the NFL.

    Now Das may see it differently, but he must rule according to what is written in the CBA. Just because one side is restricted doesn’t automatically mean the other side is as well.

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