In news that should come as a surprise to no one, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has decided not to change the discipline of the four players he suspended in the league’s investigation into the Saints’ bounty program.
That means Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma will continue to be suspended for the entire year, Packers defensive end Anthony Hargrove will continue to be suspended for the first eight games of the season, Saints defensive end Will Smith will continue to be suspended for the first four games of the season and Browns linebacker Scott Fujita will continue to be suspended for the first three games of the season.
And that’s the result everyone — including the four players — expected: No one seriously believed that the players had any real chance of convincing Goodell to change his mind, and the only real question is why Goodell waited until Tuesday afternoon to make his decision. He could have issued his ruling on the day he conducted the appeal hearing.
Now the players will move on to what they’ve termed “Phase Two” of their fight, which will entail going to court to seek a preliminary injunction barring the NFL from implementing the suspensions. And the NFL will continue to state that Goodell has final say, and has issued his final appealing: The players’ suspensions will stand.