Shortly after we posted the news that the NFL won’t hand down its decision today on the four players who are appealing their suspensions in the Saints’ bounty investigation, one of those suspended players pointedly asked why not.
Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma, whose yearlong suspension is one of the harshest punishments of any kind in NFL history, wrote on Twitter that he doesn’t understand why NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell can’t just go ahead and issue his verdict on the appeal already, which Vilma seems to assume will be that the appeals are denied.
“What’s this guy waiting on? Make your ruling so we can get on with phase 2 already,” Vilma wrote.
What Goodell is probably waiting on is to make sure he has as strong a public case as he can make about why the suspensions of Vilma, Anthony Hargrove, Will Smith and Scott Fujita should stand. The four suspended players didn’t give Goodell any new evidence that he needs time to weigh, but the public holes that have been poked in the NFL’s version of the evidence may have given Goodell pause, enough that he wants to take some time to craft his PR message. It’s also possible, if Goodell wants to lessen the scrutiny on his appeal decision, that he’s waiting for a busier news day than today, when there’s nothing else going on in the NFL.
But eventually Goodell is going to make his ruling, and it’s going to be exactly the ruling that Vilma sees coming.