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Players will get evidence three days before bounty hearing

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With Commissioner Roger Goodell setting the bounty appeal hearings for Monday, June 18, questions linger regarding the procedures to be used and, most importantly, whether the NFL will share raw evidence of the bounty system with the players who are challenging their suspensions:  Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma, Saints defensive end Will Smith, Browns linebacker Scott Fujita, and Packers defensive end Anthony Hargrove.

Per a source with knowledge of the proceedings, the league is required by the CBA to disclose the evidence it plans to rely upon during the appeal hearings three days in advance of the sessions.

That’s not a blanket requirement that the league open its files.  Instead, the league must produce only what it plans to use.

Thus, if there is evidence that points to innocence, the league isn’t required to give it to the players and the NFLPA.

Though, in theory, the league could keep its intended evidence simple in light of the fact that Goodell has full authority over the appeals, the final outcome most likely will be subject to attack in court.  The more slanted and biased the process seems, the more effective the players arguments for relief will become.  Thus, if the league holds back evidence, the suspensions could be more vulnerable to being overturned by a federal judge.

Given that the league plans to conduct all four appeal hearings on the same day, it’s unlikely that the NFL will use a lengthy, complex presentation of evidence.  Few if any trials can be completed in one day; the idea that four hearings involving hotly disputed allegations can be conducted on June 18 suggests that the procedures are more perfunctory than meaningful.

The players will have a much better sense of how detailed the process will be next Friday, when the NFL hands over the evidence that will be used.

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39 Responses to “Players will get evidence three days before bounty hearing”
  1. therealraiderduck says: Jun 7, 2012 2:07 PM

    Wow. Either the fix is in, or the NFL is stupidly making it look like the fix is in.

    Either way, Goodell does NOT come off well here.

  2. thejuddstir says: Jun 7, 2012 2:10 PM

    The appeal should last all of about 20 seconds. Goodell should simply say, “appeal denied and if you open your mouth again about this I will double your suspensions and fines…case closed”.

  3. eagleswin says: Jun 7, 2012 2:15 PM

    The more slanted and biased the process seems, the more effective the players arguments for relief will become. Thus, if the league holds back evidence, the suspensions could be more vulnerable to being overturned by a federal judge.

    —————————–

    I’m really curious on this one as it’s something you have been pushing for awhile now. If Goodell follows the procedures agreed to by the NFLPA in the CBA, what would the basis be for a court to hear the case in the first place let alone pass judgement on Goodell’s ruling?

  4. PFTiswhatitis says: Jun 7, 2012 2:25 PM

    “if there is evidence that points to innocence, the league isn’t required to give it to the players and the NFLPA.”

    If there is evidence that points to innocence why would the NFL suspend them? There seems to be some kind of paranoia around these articles as if the league is out to get certain people. The players MAKE the NFL. The NFL should not have any interest in smearing their own players, coaches and employees and I do not see any reason they would want to.

  5. phreakin says: Jun 7, 2012 2:26 PM

    To all the tools that will post how ridiculous the prcoess or how Goodell has too much power, remember one thing. The PLAYERS negotiated this along with some lawyers. The PLAYERS voted on it. And the PLAYERS signed it. So if they now wanna cry foul about it they have no sympathy from me. Not surprised though that they choose to whine and cry about it. This is the same group who whines about their contracts and respect right after they sign a new deal

  6. garyman1 says: Jun 7, 2012 2:28 PM

    This is one of those cases where I think both sides make a good point.

    For the NFL: It’s very probable that the Saints were engaging in a bounty program and they obviously have some compelling evidence. The players rejected an opportunity to meet with the commissioners office prior to discipline

    For the Players: It’s not un-reasonable to ask to see evidence that the NFL used to discipline their players. I would demand it to.

  7. jakek2 says: Jun 7, 2012 2:42 PM

    I’m shocked that the affected players and coaches haven’t filed for a preliminary injunction on this yet. EVERYONE should be able to play and coach until the court weighs in.

  8. mitchdms says: Jun 7, 2012 2:50 PM

    PFTiswhatitis says:

    If there is evidence that points to innocence why would the NFL suspend them? There seems to be some kind of paranoia around these articles as if the league is out to get certain people. The players MAKE the NFL. The NFL should not have any interest in smearing their own players, coaches and employees and I do not see any reason they would want to.
    __________________________

    In virtually any case there is exculpatory evidence or statements. Additionally, there is the background and biases of the witnesses. The NFL may have decided that they weren’t outweighed by other evidence or testimony. But it is in the players’ interest to see that evidence, too.

    The NFL doesn’t have any reason to make all of this up against the Saints. But with the concussion lawsuits and the appearance that they were weak on player safety for years, they have plenty of reason to overblow this case and make it seem that they now mean business.

    For people who keep on with this nonsense about how it serves them right for signing the CBA (which in this case is still in dispute, by the way), that does not mean that Goodell has to take his authority to the extremes and ignore basic principles of fairness.

  9. thingamajig says: Jun 7, 2012 2:52 PM

    The more I read the more I wonder if NFLPA and their high priced lawyers ever even bothered to read the CBA before voting on it.

  10. jakek2 says: Jun 7, 2012 2:53 PM

    I’m really curious on this one as it’s something you have been pushing for awhile now. If Goodell follows the procedures agreed to by the NFLPA in the CBA, what would the basis be for a court to hear the case in the first place let alone pass judgement on Goodell’s ruling?
    ———
    @eagleswin – As an attorney, I can tell you that there are several arguments that the NFLPA can make to circumvent the CBA “finality” clause. Not to bore you to death, one of the strongest arguments that the NFLPA can make is to argue that public policy dictates contracts to be interpreted fairly even though both parties were represented by counsel. Just because Goodell is the final arbiter, public policy requires Goodell to arbitrate fairly and not arbitrarily. If the NFLPA can show that Goodell did not arbitrate fairly (easy to do if he withholds exculpatory evidence), then the NFLPA can argue that public policy requires the court to void the “final arbiter” provision.

    The whole idea that “you agreed to it, you’re bound by it, you signed it, you should have been more careful”, etc., etc., is a misnomer and not well-grounded in the law. The law is full of safeguards to protect parties to a contract from being taken advantage of.

  11. kidpresentable says: Jun 7, 2012 2:56 PM

    I can’t wait for Saints fans to see the evidence and still deny it. They are the football equivalent of birthers and 9/11 truthers – no amount of evidence will ever convince them that they’re wrong.

  12. gerttownmomo says: Jun 7, 2012 3:09 PM

    @phreakin — QUOTE: “To all the tools that will post how ridiculous the prcoess or how Goodell has too much power, remember one thing. The PLAYERS negotiated this along with some lawyers. The PLAYERS voted on it. And the PLAYERS signed it. So if they now wanna cry foul about it they have no sympathy from me. Not surprised though that they choose to whine and cry about it. This is the same group who whines about their contracts and respect right after they sign a new deal”

    and YOU sir/madam are the BIGGEST of tools. had you bothered to actually research your ‘FACTS’ you would know what you’re spewing is utter bs. first off, i’m sure ALL of the members of the NFLPA are just whining in their cereal because they’re getting no sympathy from you. second, here’s how the negotiations went down (google it), the PLAYERS were told rodgerdodger was going to get fully unlimited, autonomous power as representative of the owners. this was a point they were NOT going to negotiate. PERIOD. pick something else they were told. so to blame the players for ‘agreeing’ is totally WRONG. it didn’t take the NFLPA AND the PLAYERS long to know they were hosed by the owners. they wanted the season to start, they wanted to make a living. most of the players don’t make ‘MILLIONS’ of dollars a year. a very high percentage make the league minimum (google it) based on a 5 year career expectation (average) figure out how long YOU could live on that.

  13. jesse1834 says: Jun 7, 2012 3:12 PM

    Why can’t the NFL give the players the evidence now? I don’t understand?

  14. steelersmichele says: Jun 7, 2012 3:13 PM

    Phreakin, you are right: the players voted for the new CBA with the language saying Goodell would maintain full control of disciplinary action. in fact, Vilma and Fujita were team reps who voted for it.

    And the steelers voted against the CBA for that very reason, although most posters called them stupid. Sorry, had to get that in.

  15. phreakin says: Jun 7, 2012 3:16 PM

    gerttownmomo: I don’t make millions and I have yet to sign something that doesn’t do something I want it to do. So ya, they signed it. They knew what it was. Rince, repeat

  16. 49ersgiants4life says: Jun 7, 2012 3:19 PM

    I don’t care about the outcome of this trial one bit but the fact that the NFL gets so many exclusions on laws is ridiculous and I doubt the players realized The commissioner thought he was GOD when they signed the. CBA

  17. jakek2 says: Jun 7, 2012 3:19 PM

    kidpresentable says:
    Jun 7, 2012 2:56 PM
    I can’t wait for Saints fans to see the evidence and still deny it. They are the football equivalent of birthers and 9/11 truthers – no amount of evidence will ever convince them that they’re wrong.
    ————–
    If the Saints used monopoly money to fund their bounty program, would your opinion be any different?

    As an attorney, “truth” is a defense to defamation. However, the burden to prove “truth” is on Goodell not Vilma. If Goodell can’t prove that Vilma paid actual money to another player, Vilma could very well win his defamation suit. As an NFL fan, you should hope that Vilma recovers a giant judgment against Goodell. If so, Goodell might stop being so blase about doling out these huge crippling punishments that do NOTHING but infuriate fans and rob money from players.

  18. purplegreenandgold says: Jun 7, 2012 3:37 PM

    kidpresentable says:
    Jun 7, 2012 2:56 PM

    I can’t wait for Saints fans to see the evidence and still deny it. They are the football equivalent of birthers and 9/11 truthers – no amount of evidence will ever convince them that they’re wrong.
    ===================================
    it’s intuitively obvious to the even most casual observer that no amount of evidence will convince you that their innocent of a *BOUNTY
    program…also does anyone wonder why late friday is information leak day for roger goodell

  19. feomax says: Jun 7, 2012 3:48 PM

    @gerttownmomo says:Jun 7, 2012 3:09 PM ….
    still sounds like they agreed.IF they didnt like it ,make them put it on the table.Thats why its called COLLECTIVE bargaining.In the end ..if you sign.. dont whine.Doesnt matter career or whatever. I am not saying I agree with it… Im saying ..the dotted line is the dotted line…no guns where used to make them sign

  20. psdaleno says: Jun 7, 2012 3:58 PM

    If Ford is accused of faulty breaks, and has proof they arent, info would be out immediately! McDonalds accused of food poisoning, has proof it isnt, proof will be out the next day! what idiots are giving the NFL advice to withhold info?

  21. kidpresentable says: Jun 7, 2012 4:31 PM

    @purpleandgold, The NFL has offered proof of a bounty program: the Williams audio, confessions by Williams and Peyton, e-mails from those outside of the program offering money, Hargrove bragging after taking out Favre, the ledger, etc. How about that they were warned numerous times over the past few years yet continued the program?

    So either the NFL has proof or there is some vast conspiracy orchestrated by the NFL to screw over the Saints (coincidentally the same team Viking conspiracy theorists thought the NFL rigged games in favor of for some sort of Katrina reparations or something).

    What does the NFL stand to gain from such a conspiracy? Is it to puff out their chests to show how they protect players in their lawsuit against former players who allegedly didn’t know football was dangerous? Maybe it’ll take the shine off of marquee games on the Saints schedule against the Packers, Broncos, Giants, or the playoff rematch against the 49ers. What’s the league’s motivation for “making stuff up.”

    Using Occam’s razor and some common sense, it seems far more likely that a bounty program was going on.

  22. hersh8245 says: Jun 7, 2012 4:32 PM

    Does anyone else think it’s odd the first chance players get to defense themselves is at an appeal?

  23. houndog50 says: Jun 7, 2012 4:34 PM

    purplegreenandgold says: Jun 7, 2012 3:37 PM

    it’s intuitively obvious to the even most casual observer that no amount of evidence will convince you that their innocent of a *BOUNTY
    program…also does anyone wonder why late friday is information leak day for roger goodell
    ==============================
    Yes, I questioned the “evidence” being released on late Friday! It seemed a bit convenient for Goodell.
    I also questioned your use of the word “their” as opposed to “they’re”! Must be a Nawleans thing.

  24. shzastl says: Jun 7, 2012 4:37 PM

    “Per a source with knowledge of the proceedings”, i.e. anyone with internet access who decides to read the CBA:

    “In appeals under Section 1(a), the parties shall exchange copies of any exhibits upon which they intend to rely no later than three (3) calendar days prior to the hearing.”

    Article 46, Section 2(f)(ii)

  25. jakek2 says: Jun 7, 2012 4:42 PM

    phreakin says:
    Jun 7, 2012 3:16 PM
    gerttownmomo: I don’t make millions and I have yet to sign something that doesn’t do something I want it to do. So ya, they signed it. They knew what it was. Rince, repeat
    —————–
    With all due respect, you must live at home with your parents in a bubble. If you were so averse to signing something that you didn’t agree with, there is a huge market out there that simply won’t do business with you. Landlords would never rent to you. Car dealers would never sell you a car. Banks would never lend you money to buy a home. Credit cards would give you no credit. Heck, as an NFL fan, have you ever been to a game? If so, ever read the back of the ticket? In your everyday life, you are agreeing to numerous things that you’re probably not even aware of.

    This is the purpose of our wonderful judicial system. Even though you might agree to terms (either knowingly or unknowingly), the law protects us from other parties taking advantage of certain terms in a contract. Be happy. It’s what separates us from Yemen where if you don’t agree to pay, you might lose a hand.

  26. Nick says: Jun 7, 2012 4:52 PM

    @ jakek2:
    I see you’re an attorney – not sure if you practice labor law or not, but I think that might be the issue.

    There is a long list of precedents in terms of interpreting CBAs and interjecting the court, but generally speaking you have to live with what you negotiate. Yes, there are exceptions to this, but I don’t think the idea that the arbitration clause of a CBA runs contrary to public policy is a strong argument which is going to win you a long-term injunction.

    It’s not to say that when there is a CBA you cannot seek the relief of the court, but I think your comment tends to suggest that there is not a large deference to discipline, grievance, and arbitration provisions in a CBA. In my experience as a labor/employment lawyer, it is exactly the opposite.

  27. athoula707 says: Jun 7, 2012 5:26 PM

    Goodel will use Greg william against these four player. Greg already admit about bounty and he will do whatever Goodel says cuz he need his job at Nfl again.

  28. musicman495 says: Jun 7, 2012 5:34 PM

    kidpresentable says: Jun 7, 2012 2:56 PM

    I can’t wait for Saints fans to see the evidence and still deny it. They are the football equivalent of birthers and 9/11 truthers – no amount of evidence will ever convince them that they’re wrong.
    ———————————————-
    And I cannot wait for those who think that America was built on the proposition that “where there’s smoke there’s fire” to learn that there IS no evidence of a Saints “pay to injure” system, except for the tainted word of a former player or staff member with an axe to grind, which is what some of us have been saying since March. All I know is that the more that comes out about this case, the weaker the Commissar’s position.

  29. musicman495 says: Jun 7, 2012 5:44 PM

    Nick says: Jun 7, 2012 4:52 PM

    …It’s not to say that when there is a CBA you cannot seek the relief of the court, but I think your comment tends to suggest that there is not a large deference to discipline, grievance, and arbitration provisions in a CBA. In my experience as a labor/employment lawyer, it is exactly the opposite.
    ————————–
    Lawyer or not, no CBA is a higher authority than the U.S. Constitution. I am sure no judge would insert himself or herself into a CBA disagreement over some on-the-field or off-the-field action about which there is no dispute of fact – the player was penalized for hitting the QB after the whistle, the player was convicted of drunk driving, etc. But if someone can be suspended for a year without pay for a year and have his career ruined, without so much as seeing the evidence against him, all because of a CBA, then we truly have moved to Cuba.

  30. kodakinvegas says: Jun 7, 2012 5:45 PM

    @Nick

    I see that you are an attorney evidently well versed in labor law. My thought is that reasonable evidence of pay for performance, lying to investigators for three years, audios, and public apologies for these programs by administrative staff members along with orders to cease and desist by the NFL provides Goodell solid grounds to terminate, suspend and/or fine named players as he deems relative. Am I right or wrong? further, why would a court even touch this unless it was a violation of civil liberties or discrimination of some sort? I feel this case would be dismissed immediately. Your opinion please Sir.

  31. shzastl says: Jun 7, 2012 5:46 PM

    @jakek2

    A CBA negotiated at arm’s-length between the NFLPA and the League is hardly the same thing as the typical adhesion contracts in most consumer transactions

  32. shzastl says: Jun 7, 2012 5:59 PM

    “Lawyer or not, no CBA is a higher authority than the U.S. Constitution. I am sure no judge would insert himself or herself into a CBA disagreement over some on-the-field or off-the-field action about which there is no dispute of fact – the player was penalized for hitting the QB after the whistle, the player was convicted of drunk driving, etc. But if someone can be suspended for a year without pay for a year and have his career ruined, without so much as seeing the evidence against him, all because of a CBA, then we truly have moved to Cuba.”
    ____________________

    @musicman495 – the Constitution prevents the government from denying due process. A private business can fire or suspend whoever they want (here, subject to the procedures of the CBA) without violating the Constitution.

  33. jakek2 says: Jun 7, 2012 6:05 PM

    Yes, there are exceptions to this, but I don’t think the idea that the arbitration clause of a CBA runs contrary to public policy is a strong argument which is going to win you a long-term injunction.
    ——
    @Nick
    I will defer to your expertise as you are the labor/employment lawyer. I have limited experience in the area. However, my public policy argument is not that the arbitration clause of a CBA is void in and of itself. My argument is that the arbitration “procedure” itself is void as against public policy if the arbiter wholly abuses his power in such a way that actually renders the arbitration process a joke. Sure, the NFLPA collectively bargained that Goodell was the final arbiter. However, I would think that the NFLPA could resort to the courts if Goodell doesn’t actually, you know, arbit (arbit – new word I’m submitting to Blacks).

    I wouldn’t think you’d need to be a labor law specialist to make this argument. However, if my position is wrong, please tell me so that I learn something today. I need CLEs by June 30.

  34. applecool1981 says: Jun 7, 2012 6:35 PM

    hersh8245 says: Jun 7, 2012 4:32 PM

    Does anyone else think it’s odd the first chance players get to defense themselves is at an appeal?

    ————————————————————————————————————

    It will be the second chance they had to defend themselves; the first would’ve been the meetings with Goodell that they passed on.

  35. ajpurp says: Jun 7, 2012 8:20 PM

    Duh. Literally everyone but PFT, who’ve been screaming for evidence, knew that the evidence would be disclosed on appeal and not before. There are simply too many liability issues and it’s a private corporation that handles its own affairs like any other would. Plus, without the CBA the league would have never had to disclose the evidence without a claim that is pursuable in court, e.g. Defamation or discrimination. So everyone screaming for evidence needs to relax and realize the process needs to play itself out first, nobody tips their hand in poker before the chips are in the pot. Seriously

  36. ajpurp says: Jun 7, 2012 8:27 PM

    Um and there can be no preliminary injunction until there is even a little proof that something was handled wrongly or some type of claim against Goodell or the league over the process (not defamation), everything has been handled according to the CBA so exactly what would they enjoin? The Norris-LaGuardia act put the collar on federal courts in labor suits with limited exception to enforce arbitration provisions in CBA’s, exactly what provision needs to be enforced or hasn’t been followed? None, so no injunction.

  37. purplegreenandgold says: Jun 7, 2012 8:29 PM

    houndog50 says:
    Jun 7, 2012 4:34 PM

    purplegreenandgold says: Jun 7, 2012 3:37 PM

    it’s intuitively obvious to the even most casual observer that no amount of evidence will convince you that their innocent of a *BOUNTY
    program…also does anyone wonder why late friday is information leak day for roger goodell
    ==============================
    Yes, I questioned the “evidence” being released on late Friday! It seemed a bit convenient for Goodell.
    I also questioned your use of the word “their” as opposed to “they’re”! Must be a Nawleans thing.
    ===================================
    not a Nawleans thing … just a simple error however did live there from 88/92 during DOME PATROL era due to job transfer

  38. silentcount says: Jun 7, 2012 9:46 PM

    It’s more than obvious that Goodell and the NFL need to adopt a better system that’s fair. Based on the severe financial and reputation harm to a player or coach, it needs to be handled more like any court procedure would have, to make sure mistakes aren’t made. It’s not right for Goodell to have absolute authority when he has the same chance of being wrong as the accused. There’s been a great deal of wasted time on public accusations, appeals, challenging rules and court rulings that could have been avoided with a better system of judge and punishment.

  39. wyrdawg says: Jun 7, 2012 11:06 PM

    I like Rog’s approach to this whole thing, but, I gotta admit: the PR surrounding this is making him look like the players are calling him. Not just from this site, but statements from players… hell, even the “NFL sponsored” Sirius channel. This isn’t looking good.

    It’s one thing to have a stone face in front of your advertisers. It’s another to keep walking your walk and isolate the peeps that are paying them.

    This is the age of the internet, Rog. Pony up, cause we’re ALL talking about you.

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