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NFL announcement on Goodell upholding Saints’ suspensions

[Editor’s note: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced on July 3 that he was upholding his suspension of four Saints players for the team’s bounty program. The league’s full statement on the matter is below.]

PLAYER DISCIPLINE UPHELD IN SAINTS BOUNTY MATTER

Four players – Scott Fujita, Anthony Hargrove, Will Smith and Jonathan Vilma – were notified today that Commissioner Roger Goodell has upheld the discipline that was imposed for conduct detrimental to the NFL as a result of their roles in the New Orleans Saints’ pay-for-performance/bounty program.

Fujita, now with the Cleveland Browns, is suspended without pay for the first three games of the 2012 regular season. Hargrove, now with the Green Bay Packers, is suspended without pay for the first eight games of the 2012 regular season. Smith is suspended without pay for the first four games of the 2012 regular season. Vilma is suspended without pay for the 2012 season.

In his letter to the players, Commissioner Goodell noted that:

“Throughout this entire process, including your appeals, and despite repeated invitations and encouragement to do so, none of you has offered any evidence that would warrant reconsideration of your suspensions. Instead, you elected not to participate meaningfully in the appeal process . . .

“Although you claimed to have been ‘wrongfully accused with insufficient evidence,’ your lawyers elected not to ask a single question of the principal investigators, both of whom were present at the hearing (as your lawyers had requested); you elected not to testify or to make any substantive statement, written or oral, in support of your appeal; you elected not to call a single witness to support your appeal; and you elected not to introduce a single exhibit addressing the merits of your appeal. Instead, your lawyers raised a series of jurisdictional and procedural objections that generally ignore the CBA, in particular its provisions governing ‘conduct detrimental’ determinations.”

Representatives for the players raised a series of jurisdictional challenges to the authority of the commissioner to hear appeals in this matter, arguments inconsistent with the Collective Bargaining Agreement and arguments rejected by two independent arbitrators jointly appointed by the NFL and NFL Players Association.

Commissioner Goodell reiterated the process followed prior to determining discipline:

“In sum, I did not make my determinations here lightly. At every stage, I took seriously my responsibilities under the Collective Bargaining Agreement. I determined the discipline for each of you

(1) only after a long, detailed and professional investigation by NFL Security’s experienced investigators;

(2) only after the results of that investigation were carefully reviewed by an independent expert, former United States Attorney Mary Jo White;

(3) only after I heard the appeals of the Saints’ coaches and staff regarding discipline for their roles in the program;

(4) only after representatives of NFL Security, along with Mr. Pash and Mr. Birch, spoke with Players Association attorneys at length regarding the investigation; and

(5) only after giving each of you multiple opportunities to meet with the NFL investigators and to share with them your version of the events surrounding the program. The suspensions imposed were reasonable action taken to preserve public confidence in, and the integrity of, the game of professional football.”

The commissioner further stated:

“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. 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.”

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7 Responses to “NFL announcement on Goodell upholding Saints’ suspensions”
  1. cobrala2 says: Jul 3, 2012 4:15 PM

    I wonder how excessive legalease and litigation reflects on the shield, Godell.?

    At this point we’ve gone from a ‘Saints got busted for being unethical’ to political smear campaigning.

    NOBODY will win at this rate.

  2. maxbelmont says: Jul 3, 2012 4:16 PM

    Who’s going to explain this to Drew?

  3. cslowe says: Jul 3, 2012 4:16 PM

    Where there’s smoke there’s fire….I suppose all four now will say they never received this letter.

  4. sportmentary says: Jul 3, 2012 4:32 PM

    The comish was detailed. The players kike Vilma just blew smoke. Guilty as charged!

  5. chefcurb says: Jul 3, 2012 5:19 PM

    Let’s see. No evidence to prove your innocence. Innocent until proven guilty only happens in a courtroom (most of the time), but in the NFL it’s just the opposite. This is entirely too much power for one man to have. It took 12 days to determine the players produced no more evidence? It should have taken 12 seconds and announced immediately that the suspensions wouldn’t be overturned. As for the witnesses, didn’t the players and NFLPA ask for witnesses only to be denied by the League and Goodell? And finally as for evidence, perhaps the league should provide real evidence first before throwing players and coaches under the bus in order to look good for a concussion lawsuit that they will lose their butts on anyway.

    For those of you who think this is just a Saints issue you keep falling for the League’s BS. If they get away with this, your team or players could be next.

  6. saintonthebeach says: Jul 4, 2012 1:20 PM

    It is appropriate on Independence Day that we discuss the real issue in the Saints’ alleged bounty program. When given a very basic test on our Constitution Americans fail miserably; that is because we take these rights for granted. Our Constitution was written by men who lived by these principals and believed that fairness and due process were not just moral principles to be imposed upon governments, but was also required of every civilized man. A true American therefore stands against any tyranny and oppression regardless of its source. We have forgotten these lessons, and some never learned them, but no man should be accused of ill without having the right to all the evidence against them and the NFL mantra, “This is not a murder case” is of no moment. So on Independence Day take stock of who you are, and more importantly, what you stand for.

  7. houndog50 says: Jul 6, 2012 12:16 AM

    A little late to the party here.
    Personally, I think they all deserve some form of punishment if guilty, but I say and I mean “all”!
    All 20+ players, not just these 4! More so, the punishment should fit the crime, not 3 games for funding the bounty pool (Fujita) and 8 games for denying knowledge of it (Hargrove). Brees denies it every day, where is his suspension? I now see this as a huge witch hunt by Goodell, with no rhyme or reason for the amount of punishment handed out to each player. I hope the federal judge sides with the players, NOT because they don’t deserve to be punished, but because I would like nothing better than to see Goodell exposed as the power hungry fool he appears to be! Pete Rozelle must be spinning like a top in his grave.

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