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Goodell urges Saints to meet with him, could reduce suspensions

Jonathan Vilma AP

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell continues to maintain that he has the full authority to decide on the suspensions of four Saints players for their roles in the team’s bounty program, but in his letter to the four players today, he provided at least a glimmer of hope that he could be persuaded to reduce those suspensions.

In the league’s announcement about Goodell upholding the suspensions of Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma, Packers defensive end Anthony Hargrove, Saints defensive end Will Smith and Browns linebacker Scott Fujita, a portion of the letter from Goodell to the players indicates that the Commissioner still wants to hear from the players and is committed to listening to what they have to say.

“While this decision constitutes my final and binding determination under the CBA, I of course retain the inherent authority to reduce a suspension should facts be brought to my attention warranting the exercise of that discretion,” Goodell wrote to the players. “The record confirms that each of you was given multiple chances to meet with me to present your side of the story. You are each still welcome to do so.”

For their part, the players seem to think meeting with Goodell would be futile, and they’d be better off going to court to obtain an injunction preventing the NFL from implementing their suspensions. Goodell may say his door is open and he’s ready to listen, but the players believe he has presided over an unfair investigation that he has no intention of opening his mind.

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51 Responses to “Goodell urges Saints to meet with him, could reduce suspensions”
  1. nomercy2012 says: Jul 3, 2012 4:21 PM

    “Goodell may say his door is open and he’s ready to listen, but the players believe he has presided over an unfair investigation that he has no intention of opening his mind.”

    And that very well may be true, but if you don’t try – you won’t know for sure anyway.

  2. shoestorm says: Jul 3, 2012 4:22 PM

    Tebow should forgive their sins.

  3. chargersfan4life says: Jul 3, 2012 4:22 PM

    This is just a way to reduce the chances of another law suit. Is Goodell afraid of the fact that Vilma and the others have a good case against him if the suspensions are carried out?

  4. joshuavkidd says: Jul 3, 2012 4:23 PM

    “Lawyers! The cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems.” Brought to you by your friendly neighborhood NFLPA representative.

  5. bearnmind says: Jul 3, 2012 4:23 PM

    I’m not sure why the players would feel that way. After all, this has been a transparent and fair process. I mean it’s not like the evidence has been discredited…oh wait…what I meant was it’s not like Goodell announced publicly that they were involved in a pay to injury program but in the end the evidence barely supports a pay for performance program….oh wait, I meant it’s not like they didn’t produce 50,000 pages of evidence solidly documenting 22-27 players involved in a pay to injury bounty program…oh wait…nevermind…. players – you are definitely better off going to court.

  6. electionconfidential says: Jul 3, 2012 4:24 PM

    So if you raise enough cane the NFL will quit punishing you? If Drew Brees starts calling the NFL dirty names on Letterman they’ll relent on suspensions they’ve justified on moral grounds?? I hope Goodell isn’t raising children because they won’t turn out well.

  7. greglloydrules says: Jul 3, 2012 4:25 PM

    Maybe if they presented their side of the story after it all happened it wouldn’t be going this far.

    P.S. Suits don’t make you look innocent. Just ask Ted Bundy.

  8. footballchic777 says: Jul 3, 2012 4:26 PM

    Roger, why should they meet with you to defend themselves when they have not been shown any evidence to defend themselves from?! Even you could not defend yourself against mystery evidence!

  9. dagodevil says: Jul 3, 2012 4:27 PM

    Sounds like RG is trying to make this the players fault for being suspended. He has the right to reduce the suspension at anytime, why continue the Hargrove suspension?

  10. sxt004 says: Jul 3, 2012 4:27 PM

    Yes, he wants to meet NOW saying he could still reduce suspensions because he KNOWS if this goes to court, all his “pages and pages of evidence” will be called out. His “handwritten” evidence will need to be submitted in it’s regular form and he will be held accountable for everything. I guarantee if the players agree to meet with him, he will reduce their sentencing considerably if they sign a no disclosure deal. Watch, you heard it here first. The further this goes, the more at risk he is at being thrown out of his position.

    And to the people who have been asking, “why would he risk it”…how much coverage has the concussion lawsuits been receiving? Has anyone noticed how many players are joining this lawsuit? How will it all look in court if it’s shown Goodell tried to punish people for “bounties” when compared to how much he is trying to make the league safer?

  11. rew1572 says: Jul 3, 2012 4:29 PM

    This is Goodell saying, admit to being involved in the bounties, and I’ll reduce the suspensions.

    But the dummies have dug themselves such a hole lying about it, they’d look like fools if they admitted after they denied, denied, denied.

  12. sxt004 says: Jul 3, 2012 4:30 PM

    I really wonder if the people who supposedly are bashing the saints are really looking at all the facts or are they just hoping that this will somehow have and effect on when the Saints play their team?

  13. chargersfan4life says: Jul 3, 2012 4:34 PM

    Also, can you imagine the NFL 9 years from now with Goodell. These problems are just going to get worse and worse with these suspensions and other law suits. The NFL players are having a hard time with the power they gave Goodell, imagine the problems later if this stuff is already turning out bad.

  14. pmd5319 says: Jul 3, 2012 4:36 PM

    Goodell is ready to listen now. Not sure why he would be ready to listen now and not during the appeal process. He found “evidence” of this 3 years ago. He didn’t feel like it was serious enough to suspend or fine any players. Enough.

  15. cincylaw says: Jul 3, 2012 4:37 PM

    “Come in and officially give me the proof I really don’t have, and I’ll reduce your suspension. Then I’ll use your statements to show the world that I had the proof, and my leniency on you was proof of fairness, goodwill, and that I am a kind an generous soul.” – Roger Goodell

  16. skinsnut says: Jul 3, 2012 4:40 PM

    Goddell “urges” Saints players to meet with him? I don’t think so. In fact, he was almost tauting them, because he knows they don’t have a case.

  17. flannlv says: Jul 3, 2012 4:40 PM

    This is the first time I have seen any contrition by the NFL. Goodell knows he jumped the gun and relied on less than stellar evidence in handing out his punishments. However, if I were the players I wouldn’t go before him until the league shows all of the evidence it collected and was willing to set aside the punishments. The real question is would it really matter. Goodell has tried this case in the court of public opinion and now that the players have turned the argument he wants to try and save face.

  18. thebarkexpress says: Jul 3, 2012 4:40 PM

    Roger would love to meet with the players, it’s great publicity for the NFL. Boo Hoo boxes will be provided for the players.

  19. nyfootballgiants says: Jul 3, 2012 4:42 PM

    What Goodell is doing is laying the groundwork for the NFL’s defense if this goes to court.

    1. You were offered several opportunities to present your case
    2. you refused to in each situation
    3. I had no choice but to make a ruling based on the information i received.
    4. However, if you decide to come in an act like an adult, we can have an adult conversation.

    Your honor, how can my decison be challenged in court, if the defendants refused to participate in the process? I have time and time again offered them an opportunity to provide a defense, and they have refused.

    These are rights that have been given to me through the collective bargaining process that the NFL players voted in favor of.

    In addition, the collective bargaining agreement states that my decisions are final.

    Please dismiss this claim. Thank you.

  20. CKL says: Jul 3, 2012 4:43 PM

    Look, whether Vilma individually agrees with the process or not, I can’t imagine a judge would take kindly to his refusal to participate at all. IMO that’s bad faith. I must be wrong though since lawyers advised him to boycott the whole thing. But then…they may be the same lawyers who insist the Saints are punishing Brees by witholding a contract from him for being a vocal union guy

  21. boozelee says: Jul 3, 2012 4:43 PM

    “Goodell may say his door is open and he’s ready to listen, but the players believe he has presided over an unfair investigation that he has no intention of opening his mind.”

    where’s kuato when you need him…

    “open your mind quaidell, open your miiiiiind”

  22. cwwgk says: Jul 3, 2012 4:46 PM

    The renewed invitation is a smart move by Goodell. One of the many serious flaws in the players strategy has been their decision not to participate in the appeal process as afforded them in the CBA. The latest invitation gives the players another opportunity to thumb their noses at the process to which they agreed.

    It also gives them the opportunity to present Goodell with evidence that contradicts the league’s allegations. If they again decline, the NFL can point to the fact the players never formally presented any evidence to support their claims of innocence. As such, Goodell can accurately state that the appeals were denied because the evidence of a bounty program was uncontradicted.

    Not making or preserving a record essentially forces the court to rule in favor of your adversary.

  23. tobiasjodter says: Jul 3, 2012 4:47 PM

    electionconfidential says:
    Jul 3, 2012 4:24 PM
    So if you raise enough cane the NFL will quit punishing you?

    ——————

    Well, Goodell’s strategy up until now is to react to public opinion – largely from the media. See his bizzare illegal hit campaign that started in mid-2010. It’s not surprising that some bad publicity on this matter would cause yet another shift in policy.

  24. donato77 says: Jul 3, 2012 4:49 PM

    “While this decision constitutes my final and binding determination under the CBA, I of course retain the inherent authority to reduce a suspension should facts be brought to my attention warranting the exercise of that discretion,” Goodell wrote to the players.
    ________________________________________________________

    Um…I’m pretty damned sure “facts have been brought to your attention warranting the exercise of that discretion”. What an idiot. Let’s settle this in the courts.

  25. geauxjay says: Jul 3, 2012 4:52 PM

    I hope Goodell isn’t raising children because they won’t turn out well.

    —————————-

    He’s teaching them how to lie and accuse people of things you can’t prove

  26. eeerockski says: Jul 3, 2012 4:55 PM

    What could they possibly provide that would prove their innocence? Guilty until proven innocent I guess…

  27. jpmelon says: Jul 3, 2012 4:55 PM

    So what you’re saying is that the players are actually the ones not acting in “good faith”?

  28. thebigcaptain2011 says: Jul 3, 2012 5:24 PM

    I have no dog in this fight and I could care less what happens going forward. With that said there is one fact looming over this that the NFLPA can’t seem to understand: The NFLPA allowed Goodell to have total control. If you wanted due process bad enough they would have…um, I don’t know, collectively bargained it!!!!! You know the saying: When you point at someone you are actually pointing three fingers at yourself.

  29. bearnmind says: Jul 3, 2012 5:25 PM

    To those who say that the players need to participate in the process, how do you prove you didn’t do something. What evidence can you produce that proves innocence. Even worse if someone made up a document and you don’t even know who that person is or are shown what’s in the dodument(s), how do you defend yourself?

  30. roadbiscuit says: Jul 3, 2012 5:25 PM

    Hargrove scheduled a meeting on April 3rd and was supposed to wait for flight info from the NFL. They never sent it.

  31. pappageorgio says: Jul 3, 2012 8:09 PM

    To all you arm-chair lawyers in the crowd:

    When accused of a crime, instructing your lawyer to not present a defense or participate in the process of trial gets you convicted.

    Even if your lawyer goes on to the courthouse steps and tells the media how unfair the whole process is, how bad the evidence is, and how all the witnesses are all lying.

    Not even the courts standard of guilt/innocence operates this way. “I don’t have to participate in a trial/appeal because I said I’m not guilty and I don’t like the judge or the system”.

  32. musicman495 says: Jul 3, 2012 8:21 PM

    “…I of course retain the inherent authority to reduce a suspension should facts be brought to my attention warranting the exercise of that discretion,” Goodell wrote to the players.

    “For example, if the players can show me that the source of the ‘bounty system’ accusations was an completely unreliable witness who had an axe to grind against the team, or if they can show that the purported ‘bounty ledger’ was inaccurate or perhaps even fabricated, because it alludes to Saints players being paid for opponent ‘cart offs,’ when in fact there were no cart offs in the games in question, except for the cart off of Saints players, then I will consider reducing the suspensions. Oh, wait…”

  33. kmossg says: Jul 3, 2012 8:25 PM

    I gotta think Goodell has the evidence, but releasing it would put the “whistleblowers” in jeopardy. By doing so, he would ensure that no one ever comes to the NFL with scandals and issues like this again. A player like Brees is smart enough to know this, yet he insists on having the evidence made public. He is trying to use the media to influence public perception, the same thing he accused Goodell of. All in all, I can’t wait till camp opens and this story gets pushed to the backburners.

  34. buccaroo989 says: Jul 3, 2012 8:28 PM

    The saints players are acting like criminals.the only defense any have used so far is to discredit the process because the evidence has been overwhelming. Now they still refuse to talk to Godell because they would not be able to keep telling everyone he wouldn’t listen. I would love to see them actually address the evidence for once.

  35. korikill says: Jul 3, 2012 8:52 PM

    Thank you, papageorgio, for saying what needs to be said. Apparently I kept insulting the mods, they must be on their period, I don’t know. I tried to say exactly this same thing three times, it kept getting deleted by them.
    MIDOL, mods, it really works.

  36. steelerdynasty2010 says: Jul 3, 2012 9:21 PM

    as a steeler fan, i can not help but laugh every time i hear about goodell the unfair, goodell tyrant, etc. glad my team saw this coming from a mile away and voted against the CBA for this reason alone.

    he’s hedging his bets and building a back door just in case Vilma’s assertion regarding Cerullo’s recantation PROVES to be true. if that cards falls, so does the whole deck and the NFL will really be standing there with its’ pants down.

  37. silentcount says: Jul 3, 2012 9:30 PM

    Goodell’s system doesn’t give the players any chance to offer a defense other than saying, “I didn’t do it.” What specifically are they suppose to provide? In a court trial they’d be given access to every bit of the prosecution’s evidence well enough in advance to cross examine and find reasons why it’s actually not evidence. If they aren’t allowed basic rights from Goodell, then I don’t blame them for taking it to a real court. I’d do the same and so would you. We’re not talking about a slap on the wrist here. It’s the most severe punishment the NFL has ever handed out that was based on public accusations as fact, with a verdict of guilt and punishment handed out before any defense was allowed.

  38. bayouranch says: Jul 3, 2012 9:30 PM

    The evidence is such garbage, written by a disgruntled employee that has been shown to be inaccurate. Ginger still levied the harshest punishments in league history to them. fair? no.
    So why honor his Kangaroo Court with your appearance when you already know the outcome.
    I feel sorry for the players that signed the CBA more worried about money than a fair appeals system. Pay for performance is done by many teams and really not that big a deal, the injury thing is bogus. He really should change his punishments , especially for Sean Payton and Vilma, but he won’t

  39. laeaglefan says: Jul 3, 2012 9:41 PM

    If the best explanation that they can come up with is “Everyone else is doing it. Why should ‘we’ get suspended just because we were the ones to get caught?”, then of course they’re wasting their time. But if they really have a meaningful explanation of the circumstances that can help them, then I think they have no better choice than to accept this olive branch that Goodell is extending to them.

  40. nygmenruleny says: Jul 3, 2012 9:53 PM

    The players had the chance to defend themselves, and didn’t take it. That is their problem, NOT the NFL’s. They are trying to get in court what they were too stupid to try and get at the barganinng table in the new CBA. You can’t have your cake and eat it too!

  41. bearnmind says: Jul 3, 2012 10:01 PM

    For the rest of us reclined lawyers-participating in an appeals process when you haven’t seen the evidence that was used to make the decision to suspend you legitimizes the process and can actually hurt your legal claim. The important thing to keep in mind is that it doesn’t matter what team the players play for. All th speculation would end if the NFL would just show the evidence they have. If all they have is what has been shown to date then the questions about the legitimacy of the evidence and the the source of the evidence need to be asked. With that much authority the Commissioner has an even greater responsibility.

  42. sportswannabe says: Jul 3, 2012 10:02 PM

    Bottom line, Roger is right. The players have had multiple opportunities to challenge the SUBSTANCE of the charges, but they have refused, only offering “loophole” arguments.

    Bottom line, Goodell DOES have this power, and it was given to him by the players. Only the Steelers have a right to complain about Goodell having all this power, because the players AGREED to it (except for the Steelers, who voted against it). Their representatives knew it existed, and they chose to focus on getting concessions on other terms, like practice time.

    That’s fine, but that’s negotiation. You compromise in certain areas to get changes in areas that are more important to you. THey could have stood strong on this issue, but they didn’t. NOw they’re looking for a court to alter their collectively bargained agreement because they don’t like some of the results, and that’s just not going to happen.

  43. nolabountyhunter says: Jul 3, 2012 10:12 PM

    Four months of this crap…still no game tape.
    Roger has lied from the beginning.
    He has duped the media, “bounty” never existed.
    All you people pig-piling on the Saints, don’t come crying in a few years when he does this crap to your favorite player or team.
    The man is completely out of control and has fabricated the facts to suit his own agenda.

    Four months…still no game tape…think about it.

  44. mikejonesforum says: Jul 3, 2012 10:21 PM

    What about Sean Payton? Can he get a little love from RG?

  45. mjkelly77 says: Jul 3, 2012 10:43 PM

    The players, much like children, don’t like the punishment handed down by daddy, refuse to come clean about their indiscretions, and now would rather cry to mommy for her to intercede.

  46. mjkelly77 says: Jul 3, 2012 10:52 PM

    electionconfidential says:Jul 3, 2012 4:24 PM

    So if you raise enough cane the NFL will quit punishing you? If Drew Brees starts calling the NFL dirty names on Letterman they’ll relent on suspensions they’ve justified on moral grounds?? I hope Goodell isn’t raising children because they won’t turn out well.
    ____________________

    In a sense, Goodell’s protecting the money-making ability of the NFL by holding the players to acceptable behaviour is just like raising children. Very spoiled and immature children.

  47. mjkelly77 says: Jul 3, 2012 10:55 PM

    footballchic777 says:Jul 3, 2012 4:26 PM

    Roger, why should they meet with you to defend themselves when they have not been shown any evidence to defend themselves from?! Even you could not defend yourself against mystery evidence!
    __________________

    Evidence? All the players have to do is tell the truth. But instead they’ve chosen to “lawyer up” and attempt to circumvent the truth.

  48. stanggtman says: Jul 3, 2012 11:38 PM

    Hey 4 of you dumb players, Goodell is giving you guys YET another chance to meet face to face with him.

    Meet him and get it over with, and maybe your suspensions will get shortened.

    What a bunch of cry babies.

  49. footballchic777 says: Jul 4, 2012 12:09 AM

    papageorgio. the problem is that in a court of law, the prosecution would actually PRESENT EVIDENCE! When the players have asked to see the evidence that Roger is convicting them on, HE will not disclose it. So how can they defend themselves against ghost evidence, ergo, why waste there time appearing before the court? They all did show and chose to leave because of thenpoornway in which this has been handled. Yes, the NFLPA allowed this in there new CBA, but the word FAIR was in there, and that has been thrown aside!

  50. dretwann says: Jul 4, 2012 12:21 AM

    I wonder how many of you “legal minds” really know what you are talking about. Truth is, there is the great likelihood that only 2% o you have a clue to the real legal process. The rest of you are rehashing **it you heard or read from Florio or some other knowledgeable source. And I am willing to bet that all the “legal minds” here promising the players will lose also drank the koolaid the media sold you when they swore up and down the Healthcare bill was doomed in SCOTUS only to eat crow later. Pathetic. Your idea of justice or due process is irrelevant and likely has no real relation to what happens in a courtroom. And no, I am not a fan of the Saints. Even in a CBA, no one is above the requirement of a fair process. I don’t think anyone here or on any message board can say that the process was fair because all you have been fed has been filtered by the various media outlets to suit their needs not yours. And who has the media by the nads? It sure as heck ain’t the fans. Just sayn.

  51. drgreenstreak says: Jul 4, 2012 12:27 AM

    Lawyers make but not earn a lot of money from stubbornly ignorant players.

    Brees supports stupidity but certainly knows better.

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