“Phase Two” is now rolling.
As expected, the NFLPA filed on Thursday morning a federal lawsuit on behalf of Saints defensive end Will Smith, Packers defensive end Anthony Hargrove, and Browns linebacker Scott Fujita attacking their suspensions for alleged involvement in the New Orleans bounty scandal.
Also as expected, the lawsuit takes aim primarily at Commissioner Roger Goodell’s alleged failure to serve as an impartial arbitrator.
The new lawsuit doesn’t include claims on behalf of Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma. He already has filed his own action attacking his suspension. (And, presumably, the NFLPA will try to get the new case consolidated with Vilma’s, in the hopes of getting Judge Helen G. Berrigan assigned to the case.)
The first skirmish will entail a StarCaps-style effort to block all suspensions until the litigation has concluded. Then, the case will turn to the question of whether the outcome of the arbitration should be respected, or overturn.
Thus, anyone who thought that the situation would end with Goodell’s ruling, think again.
And anyone in the media who thinks that this has all become tired or boring or uninteresting, either you’re not paying attention or you’re pushing an agenda (subtly or otherwise) that entails not criticizing the league’s internal process or not getting to the truth, whatever the truth may be.
That’s all we want, the truth. Was there a bounty on Brett Favre in the NFC title game, or wasn’t there? Was there a bounty system, or was it a pay-for-performance process that paid players a little extra to do that which they already were paid to do — apply hard, clean, legal hits in a manner that makes an opponent unavailable to return to the game.
The NFL necessarily has concealed the truth, under the guise of protecting the person who blew the whistle on the situation. If that person is Mike Cerullo (as Vilma claims), there’s no longer any need to protect him.
So here’s hoping we finally get to the truth.