The players accused of participating in the Saints’ bounty program chose to say nothing to the NFL on Monday. The league has given them some more time to say something, if they so choose.
A transcript of Monday afternoon’s media session indicates that the league has provided the suspended players “several days” to file a written memo “to address the merits or substance of the evidence and the disciplinary action.”
NFL general counsel Jeff Pash said the written submission is optional. “We don’t know if they will do so or not,” Pash said, “but we will hold the record open and the Commissioner will be happy to receive any paper they want to supply.”
Pash also said that Commissioner Roger Goodell “would be prepared to receive” reports from any investigations conducted by the NFLPA or the lawyers representing 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.
Of course, “receiving” the information and genuinely considering it are two different propositions, and it’s likely that the NFLPA and the players won’t be submitting anything because they believe it won’t do anything to change the NFL’s mind, and that it only will be used against the players in the looming stew of litigation related to the suspensions.
And so look for the players to submit nothing that goes to the substance of the case, and for Goodell to uphold the suspensions at some point thereafter (probably next week), explaining that the players have given him no evidence or argument that would justify changing his mind.