The question of whether justice is done depends largely on the perspective of the person who is seeking it. Rarely, if ever, do both sides of a dispute embrace the outcome crafted by a third party.
In the case of the players suspended for allegedly participating in, funding, and/or establishing the Saints’ alleged bounty program, the fact that one of the two parties will also be resolving Monday’s appeals makes it even harder for the other party to be confident that the outcome will resemble anything remotely close to justice.
Saints safety Roman Harper nevertheless remains hopeful that, eventually, justice will be served. “I know what really went down in our locker room, and I know the things that got hit on us are nowhere near what they’re supposed to be,” Harper told Alex Cassara of the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “That’s my only comment on it, but I know due justice will eventually happen.”
It likely won’t happen at 345 Park Avenue on Monday, when Commissioner Roger Goodell begins the process of taking a second look at the player suspensions he already has imposed. Though it’s possible that he thumbed the scale the first time around in order to appear open-minded and merciful by reducing the suspensions after further review, the four players believe there should be no suspensions, fines, or any other penalties.
Unfortunately, they likely won’t have a full and fair chance to attempt to establish their innocence on Monday.
“I don’t know any part of our government where you can punish somebody and then not say what you’re punishing them for or what you’ve got against them,” Harper said, after being informed of the evidence that the league plans to use. “I just don’t know anywhere in America where that’s justice.”
The league will call it justice, because for the NFL justice consists of being the ultimate authority on all matters relating directly or indirectly to its business. True justice entails a neutral, objective party getting to the truth, especially where as in this case the truth is hotly contested.
As to Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma, Saints defensive end Will Smith, Packers defensive end Anthony Hargrove, and Browns linebacker Scott Fujita, something they regard to be justice likely will have to come in some other setting. In a controversy that entails plenty of questions and ambiguities (and precious few answers from the league), the only thing that appears certain at this point is that the players certainly won’t have a full and fair chance to prove that their version of the events is the correct one on Monday.