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NFL calls new bounty lawsuit “improper”

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Well, at least the league’s positions on the latest bounty lawsuits are consistent.

After Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma filed a Saturday night legal action attacking the anticipated ruling upholding his suspension, the NFL called the move “improper.”

And “improper” remains the key word for the league’s response to the new filing on behalf of the other three suspended players.

“As in the case of Mr. Vilma’s lawsuit, this is an improper attempt to litigate an issue that is committed to a collectively bargained process,” the league said in a statement forwarded to PFT.  “There is no basis for asking a federal court to put its judgment in place of the procedures agreed upon with the NFLPA in collective bargaining.  These procedures have been in place, and have served the game and players well, for many decades.”

Again, these suits don’t seem to be about getting a court to substitute its judgment for the judgment of Commissioner Roger Goodell, who served as the arbitrator.  These actions attacj the process as unfair and partial to the league.

Though the league may not like it, there’s nothing improper about making good-faith arguments that the process culminating in an arbitration award wasn’t fair and impartial.

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42 Responses to “NFL calls new bounty lawsuit “improper””
  1. lightcleric says: Jul 5, 2012 10:39 AM

    The appeals process kind of sucks when neither side is honestly engaged in it…

  2. SkeletalDrawing says: Jul 5, 2012 10:42 AM

    This is why Goodell sent out the letter (which was made public right away) inviting the players to meet with him and present their cases, even hinting that their suspensions might be reduced if they meet in good faith – because it will be much more difficult for the players to argue in court that the process was unfair or impartial when they stormed out in the middle and didn’t finish taking all avenues available to them.

    I’m not taking sides, just saying that the league office seems to be on the ball in terms of framing the legal case through its actions, and the players played right into their hands by not exhausting all of their options before filing suit.

  3. mwindle1973 says: Jul 5, 2012 10:45 AM

    “As in the case of Mr. Vilma’s lawsuit, this is an improper attempt to litigate an issue that is committed to a collectively bargained process,”

    ____________

    This is all that matters, at least legally speaking. This is a joke and a waste of NFLPA resources. The NFLPA does not have the evidence to prove it;s contention. It makes nice fodder for the media hounds to go on about. It makes for interesting arguments between fans. In court simply trying to create doubt about singular pieces of evidence as one would in a criminal trial. They will actually for the first time have to present a case that shows why the plurality of the leagues evidence is wrong or invalid. For example if this was OJ you and it was a criminal trial you could say, forget that his blood was all over the scene. They also said the killer wore these gloves and they don’t fit OJ. That’s is reasonable doubt. This is not a criminal case they will actually have to explain to every suspicious piece of evidence the NFL presented. I not just speak to one piece of evidence at a time.

  4. jrmbadger says: Jul 5, 2012 10:46 AM

    This reaction sounds to me like a typical reaction from a person who isn’t used to having decisions challenged.

  5. geauxjay says: Jul 5, 2012 10:56 AM

    If you have the evidence, share it. Not the fake stuff you leaked to the media which was instantly discredited. The REAL stuff.

    Once they see it, EVERYBODY will shut up and admit defeat. The players, the lawyers, the commenters.

    What is so hard to understand about that?

  6. rajbais says: Jul 5, 2012 10:58 AM

    What is the commissioner, a robot with a code copy-and-pasted from another code??

    He used the word improper prior to today with respect to Vilma’s suit!!!

  7. geauxjay says: Jul 5, 2012 11:00 AM

    even hinting that their suspensions might be reduced if they meet in good faith – because it will be much more difficult for the players to argue in court that the process was unfair or impartial when they stormed out in the middle and didn’t finish taking all avenues available to them
    —————————–
    Doing that implies guilt. The players haven’t been proven guilty yet. Why should Vilma kiss Goodell’s ring and beg for an 8 game suspension instead of 16 when he thinks Goodell can’t even prove that he did it AT ALL?

  8. bigball1 says: Jul 5, 2012 11:02 AM

    What really seems “Improper” is that someone at any level, at any job has the right and authority to charge, convict, sentence and over see the appeal and never have to prove his actions…..
    A CBA should not be able to strip someone of any and all rights! If it does then there really would be NO limit. Any player in the NFL would be subject to a year, or many years suspensions at the very wim of the Commissioner. The authority agreed to in the CBA negotiations did not foresee the over reach that has occurred in this situation…..which results in filed lawsuits! My feelings are if Roger Goodell had conducted this in a FAIR manner, bring in the players, show why he believes what he believes and allowed them to answer to the issues in the clear of light , this would never have got to this point!

  9. mwindle1973 says: Jul 5, 2012 11:02 AM

    Another great point is the players walked out on the appeals process. Nice publicity move, but most likely a very, very stupid legal move. But this lawsuit is just an attempt to get an injunction that delays the suspensions. These are aging players, and they don’t have many games left to collect checks on. They KNOW they can’t win this suit. They WILL get an injunction. But for how long? Because I think the league will file for summary judgment, and I believe they will win it. For those of you not familiar with summary judgement. It’s basically a tactic for getting the case thrown out before it can be tried based on a lack of evidence. But if it doesn’t work, the NFLPA will succeed in getting their injunction. Can they succeed in then pulling the brake and dragging the case out through the season?

  10. jrmbadger says: Jul 5, 2012 11:03 AM

    SkeletalDrawing says:
    Jul 5, 2012 10:42 AM
    =========================

    Yeah, you are right in that the league is trying to cover its bets with that kind of language.

    The players will argue that its too little too late.

    They offered (and there is evidence to this effect) to meet with Goodell before the suspensions were announced if Goodell would share with them the evidence he had. The NFL refused.

    That refusal along with what appears to be a trial by media (e.g., the selective release of some of the evidence by the NFL along with the litany of mischaracterizations of that evidence) is pretty good evidence that the players can use to say that it wouldn’t have mattered anyway, that Goodell had his mind made up and was already tainted by his preconceived notions.

  11. cwmorga says: Jul 5, 2012 11:04 AM

    @SkeletalDrawing says: Jul 5, 2012 10:42 AM

    This is why Goodell sent out the letter (which was made public right away) inviting the players to meet with him and present their cases, even hinting that their suspensions might be reduced if they meet in good faith – because it will be much more difficult for the players to argue in court that the process was unfair or impartial when they stormed out in the middle and didn’t finish taking all avenues available to them.
    ————————
    The NFLPA asked that Cerullo, Payton, Williams, and Vitt be made available for the hearing, which the NFL declined. The NFL also declined to provide all of the “evidence” against the players. How do you prove that you DIDN’T do something if you’re denied access to the corroborating witnesses and the evidence?

  12. marcinhouston says: Jul 5, 2012 11:07 AM

    Goodell just keeps offering the players more appeals as a trick to deceive them out of their legal rights. He will keep offering and then denying appeals until their full suspension is served without ever showing his evidence if they don’t sue. As far as he is concerned the players are guilty until proven innocent and they must tell their side of the story which proves them innocent without seeing the evidence against them or being given any access to interview witnesses or even a list of who those witnesses are. Does this sound fair? Yeah, the NFLPA collectively bargained for this process, but voters elect judges too, and that does not mean they cannot sue when a particular judge has a clear conflict of interest, acts unfairly, and won’t recuse himself. Goodell is not a fair judge considering he invested his reputation in announcing findings and blame to the media long before announcing any punishments and has never shown much of the evidence or backed down from findings even when some items have been proven to be flawed.

  13. 9erssteve says: Jul 5, 2012 11:09 AM

    Question… Just how much is the NFLPA paying Demaurice Smith? And FOR WHAT????

    This time last year HE came out after finally negotiating a new CBA with the NFL and claimed it was the BEST DEAL for the players and that it would protect them and help them and the sport achieve more in the future.

    Less than 12 SHORT MONTHS later HE is going to court claiming that the process HE NEGOTIATED IS UNFAIR! How the heck does that work? Either the deal he made last year is as good as he claims, and he’s wasting NFLPA time and money trying to sue the NFL, or the deal he made last year is flawed and everything he announced after the lockout ended was just hot air!

    And if EITHER of those are the case HOW THE HECK DOES HE STILL HAVE A JOB?

    He’s eithered lied to the players to cover up HUGE failings in his negotiating skills and to hide the fact he seeded to much power to the NFL in exchange for very little. Or he’s taking the rights and safety of all the other players in the league and the integrity of the game and selling it down the river to get himself some more face time on TV!

    People say Goodell has been bad for football? Take a look at Smith and see how he works. He’ll slowly choke the league in law suits and red tape till he blleds it dry to line HIS POCKETS no-one elses. I only hope when all this is done the players realise how badly this man has painted them into a conrner and told them it’s paradise!

  14. redman6ft4 says: Jul 5, 2012 11:11 AM

    @ SkeletalDrawing

    The NFL has so many holes in their defense it’s not funny.

    Lets start with the so called evidence they have provided. The video of Hargrove saying give me my money, NOT……Hargrove was not involved in the play that hurt Farve , with Mary Jo stating she see’s Hargroved mouth repeating those words, the so called paper trail (hell you and I can make that up and print it out), last but not least the NFL had 72 hours to turn over their information to the players lawyers and they did it after the deadline, with the way the CBA was written anything after the deadline in not valiad. So with that the NFL does not have a case. It it went before andifferent arbitrator other than Goodell it would have been thrown out, how can you punish player for three years ago under the new CBA, that punishment should have been done under the old agreement.

  15. 9erssteve says: Jul 5, 2012 11:14 AM

    @rajbais, that’s a LEGAL term it means it HAS NO BASIS, Vilma’s claim had no basis the first time he mentioned it, and it STILL has no basis today, because the League and the players have an AGREEMENT in place that the League/Commissioner is in SOLE charge of discipline.

    If the players dont think that’s fair, fine… but they only have themselves and THE MAN REPRESENTING Vilma to blame, as it was Demaurice Smith who NEGOTIATED the current disciplinary procedures… LAST YEAR!

    If they were so UNFAIR, why did he agree to them?

  16. pa1856 says: Jul 5, 2012 11:16 AM

    This bounty case is getting old. For one, I do not think the court system should get tied up in the matter regarding conduct at your work. It is your employer’s job to discipline you, not the court’s duty to decide their discipline is unjustified. Along with Clemons and Armstrong, sports should not be brought up in the court room. Lay it to rest please.

  17. windycity0301 says: Jul 5, 2012 11:16 AM

    I really don’t have a rooting interest either way, but it seems to me the only winners in this whole thing are the lawyers, specifically Ginsburg.

    I’m speaking for myself here, but I can’t wait until actual football begins and PFT can move away from backing fellow lawyers in their quest for the dollar grab and start reporting on things happening on the field for once.

  18. nyfootballgiants says: Jul 5, 2012 11:30 AM

    Keep in mind, if Vilma doesn’t win – he is unemployed for 12 months. He has nothing to lose here.

    However, as someone who has attended more Arbitrations that i can to acknowledge – arbitrators can have some really funky rulings.

    Not liking the arbitrators ruling, when the CBA indicates that all claims are to be decided by the arbitrator is one thing, but having a court over rule an arbitrator is next to impossible.

    This is a Hail Mary by Vilma, et al that is destined to fail.

  19. shzastl says: Jul 5, 2012 11:33 AM

    Receiving the exhibits only 68 hours before the hearing instead of 72 has nothing to do with the process not being “fair and impartial”

  20. CKL says: Jul 5, 2012 11:33 AM

    Here’s the thing, Atallah was asked point blank on Mike & Mike this morning how he could expect impartiality out of it when the same person handles the appeals as makes the ruling and he had no real answer to it. Perhaps they are saving the particulars of that argument for court, but I still think it’s interesting that he didn’t answer. He did talk about the appeals process for on field hits etc. But the fact remains, they had a chance to ask for a similar procedure in negotiations and did not.

    I sure hope that their stance is actually to protect their members, and not protect their own behinds because they were negligent in representing the players and now the players themselves have to make that case for the NFLPA about the process.

  21. ras1tafari says: Jul 5, 2012 11:34 AM

    This is all a ridiculous waste of money. The last thing we need to do is fund any more lawyers.

    Goodell needs to back off and let these guys play. This won’t mean anything in the long run, and he just looks petulant.

  22. geauxjay says: Jul 5, 2012 11:35 AM

    The NFLPA does not have the evidence to prove it;s contention.
    ——————————
    I saw Roger Goodell say on the NFL Network before the suspensions were issued that the players were guilty.

    There’s the proof. Next question.

  23. shzastl says: Jul 5, 2012 11:39 AM

    mwindle1973 says: Jul 5, 2012 10:45 AM

    “This is not a criminal case they will actually have to explain to every suspicious piece of evidence the NFL presented.”
    ____________

    No that is not what the NFLPA is trying to do, and the NFL is saying it would be improper to even try. NFLPA is basically saying the evidence does not matter because the players never had a fair chance to defend themselves since Goodell had already made up his mind that they were guilty and had advocated their guilt publicly.

  24. freakinandpeakin says: Jul 5, 2012 11:44 AM

    People need to start pointing the finger at the real culprit, DeMaurice Smith. Goodell is bad too, but why Smith keeps getting a pass is beyond me.

    Smith pushed through a CBA agreement that contained this very process of arbitration adjudication, which players like Vilma agreed to less than 10 months ago. Now they are complaining about that very process they approved.

    Nevermind, Smith threw the Cowboys and Redskins under the bus with respect to the salary cap penalties in order to save his own hide. Then he files an antitrust lawsuit saying the salary cap penalties are evidence of them. Of course we should all forget that he okayed those very penalties he is complaining about.

  25. marthisdil says: Jul 5, 2012 12:08 PM

    None of it matters because of the CBA. His lawyer and Agent should be telling him how stupid he is. Hopefully Vilma just leaves the union. That would make things a lot easier.

  26. marthisdil says: Jul 5, 2012 12:12 PM

    mwindle1973 says: Jul 5, 2012 11:02 AM
    They KNOW they can’t win this suit. They WILL get an injunction
    ================

    They can’t get an injunction because the judge isn’t stupid. The CBA covers player discipline which the union agreed to, and Vilma is in (and represented by) the union, thus, he gave up his right to sue over player penalties like this.

  27. donato77 says: Jul 5, 2012 12:17 PM

    What many of you don’t realize is that the “new CBA” giving Goodell powers isn’t any different than the old CBA in that regard. The Commish has always had these powers, but no commissioner had ever misused this power like Goodell is doing now. Nobody could have foreseen that Roger would so blindly abuse these powers that have been around for many decades.

  28. purpleguy says: Jul 5, 2012 12:29 PM

    Anyone that knows anything about the law, which apparently excludes 75% of the posters above, will tell you that the NFLPA has very little chance of success in this lawsuit. There are two hudles: (1) meeting standards for injuncive relief; and (2) meeting legal standards to overcome a collectively bargained arbitration award. They might get temporary injunctive releif, but no way in hell can they meet the legal standards to obtain permanent relief or overcome the CBA-bargained employment decision. The only chance they’ve got is a complete homer Louisianna federal judge.

  29. jakek2 says: Jul 5, 2012 12:44 PM

    Why can’t owner slurpers understand that the players simply did not agree to an unfair arbitration process??

  30. korikill says: Jul 5, 2012 12:45 PM

    I find it very humorous to listen to the arguments here. It seems all you fans have PERSONAL knowledge as to the exact nature of the evidence both for and against the suspensions, as well as the legal ramifications of every part of the CBA.

  31. kidpresentable says: Jul 5, 2012 12:47 PM

    @redman:, “The video of Hargrove saying give me my money, NOT…”

    Hargrove is suspended for lying. The video shows somebody on the team acknowledging a bounty was placed on Favre.

    “the so called paper trail (hell you and I can make that up and print it out)”

    The ledgers were hand-written and converted to a computer document to protect identities. I’m sure the NFL has the originals. All of the other stuff like slide shows, e-mails, etc. were taken from Saints computers which would be tagged under a particular individual’s e-mail, log-ins, etc.

    “last but not least the NFL had 72 hours to turn over their information”

    Who gives a s—? You’re looking at a technicality to disprove guilt? If memory serves, they recessed until the afternoon which would have allowed those involved the few remaining hours of the 72 to catch up, because I’m sure the player’s lawyers didn’t start reading right away. They had time to read the documents. The fact remains, the players had a chance to defend themselves at the appeals hearing. They chose to not offer evidence and display a tantrum by walking out instead.

  32. ghengy says: Jul 5, 2012 1:01 PM

    Its also improper for the league to claim they have 50,000 pages of evidence and testimony, then refuse to open the books for anyone to see.

  33. bearnmind says: Jul 5, 2012 1:09 PM

    Gooddell made the decision to use the media as a tool/weapon (pick your word depending upon your viewpoint) I don’t think he expected the pushback. The media failed to do its job and impartially report and investigate the facts. They either parrotted what Gooddell said and presented it as fact or took the opposite approach. Ultimately the fact that Mr. Gooddell public statements made before the punishments were handed out clearly destroyed any chance he had of being impartial. Who publicly makes definitive statements then metes out punishments and then domes out publicly and says oops I was wrong??? Also by some of the reasoning out there by the Saints haters (which included media – I’m talking to you T-P) the fact that Carillon hasn’t denied the claims made against him by Villa must means they’re true and Cerulllo made the whole thing up.

  34. grogantomorgan says: Jul 5, 2012 1:10 PM

    Folks, where there’s smoke there’s usually fire. Please don’t dilute yourself into thinking otherwise.

    Why aren’t the coaches/GM filing a lawsuit ?

    What this amounts to is petty posturing by the NFLPA, they shouldn’t have signed away (once again) the powers for player discipline to RG.

    Regardless, as mentioned the only winners are the leeches (lawyers).

    Kick Off !

  35. buzzardpointlookout says: Jul 5, 2012 1:15 PM

    I am so sick of this garbage. The players should just get it over with. Disband the union and go on strike, fellas. It’s the only way you are wrenching the power from Goodell’s hands.

    How is De Smith still employed by the NFLPA? His “best deal” with the NFL is turning out to be the worst in sports.

    I am 100% behind the players in this. This whole “scandal” is a fabrication. The only real violations I see are the ones where non-players were involved (coaches, etc.). Once the players get their paychecks, that money is theirs and they can do whatever they like with it. The CBA’s governance over a player’s finances ends once the check is signed.

    I don’t care how much smoke there is. If the league cannot specifically prove a certain player was explicitly involved in either paying or receiving a payment for intentionally injuring an opponent, the NFL is out of line suspending him and tarnishing his name forever. That player should sue the league’s pants off.

  36. chi01town says: Jul 5, 2012 1:15 PM

    The Saints was on the turf trying to hurt other players. Thats a known fact, the coach never denied that. They should be punished an thats whats happening, an the ONLY PROBLEM I have with that is Goodell is the one doing it an he shouldnt be, the NFLPA should do what ever is in there power to get rid of him NOW. because he dont know nothing about football or the kind of person it takes to play the game, this is FOOTBALL not rugby or tennis an Goodell is destroying the game with his rule changes

  37. canadianfootballfan says: Jul 5, 2012 2:01 PM

    What is lost in all this is the NFL/Goodell first reported that all this was a bounty program where saints players/coaches were paying to injury other teams players. Now I am seein that they have added the pay for performance to the bounty tag…so which is it? They can’t have both pay for performance goes on in every locker room so there should be mass suspensions throughout the league. Secondly the NFL/Goodell stated that they had over 50000 pages of evidence against these players/coaches throughout the media which made everyone think well hell theres no chance these guys are innocent, but when time to show all the evidence it’s no where to be found…if I was the commish and I had all this so called evidence I would put it all out so all the conspiracy theories to rest

  38. bigbadal21 says: Jul 5, 2012 2:17 PM

    This will not get printed the same as my last 5 posts on this subject.
    Goodell can suspend a player whether he is guilty or not as per the CBA. Rothlesburger is an example. He was suspended for 6 games without any charges being brought against him. Many self righteous saints fans who are screaming the loudest still refer to him as Rapelessburger so I have no sympathy for you.
    Most of the fans agree there was a pay for performance scheme going on with the saints but vehemently declare it was not a bounty as Goodell states. Their reasoning is that no flags were thrown or players carted off the field. Here’s a news flash for you. When a player is rewarded or offered a reward for taking another player out even if by a legal hit then that is a bounty. If a player is rewarded for knocking another player off his feet even if legal, that is a bounty. There is no doubt these offers were included in the system they were running. Players have admitted it they just don’t like the term “bounty” associated with it.
    The next big topic is “how can Goodell be impartial when he has already said the players are guilty?” Well he has to say they are guilty in order to levy punishment. Goodell has repeatedly stated that considering the evidence he has he had no choice but to act as he did. The players can present any evidence or testimony at the appeals hearing that they want. How can Goodell change his mind when no new evidence or testimony is presented? The players want him to give them all the evidence so they can scrutinize it and find flaws. That is not how it works. The players need to tell their side of the story, which Goodell has given them every chance to do, so that he can make a decision on the appropiate punishment if any. The players refused and still do. An example: player so and so said this according to Goodells’ info. Some players state this is not true “they” know who said what but they refuse to disclose any light on the matter because their only action is to stonewall the investigation. The players agreed to the CBA so they should play by the rules of the CBA rather then trying to circumvent it.

  39. shzastl says: Jul 5, 2012 3:42 PM

    Re: 72 hours — I’m pretty sure 68 hours gave the lawyers plenty of time to read 200 pages of exhibits, most of which were irrelevant on their face. Federal litigation routinely involves much larger volumes of documents, and without some showing that it was clearly unreasonable/impossible for them to review the papers in time for the hearing, no judge is going to hang their hat on that technicality (which requires a somewhat strained interpretation of “3 calendar days” anyway)

  40. franktherat96 says: Jul 5, 2012 3:58 PM

    What was improper was the investigation. The handing down of suspensions without showing real proof of a bounty system. They get some information supposedly from a disgruntled employee(which we know this is always reliable). The NFL needs to do the right thing….show all of the evidence. the reason they haven’t in my believe is because the rest of the stuff isn’t going to prove anything buy how weak their case is.

  41. duece5 says: Jul 5, 2012 4:08 PM

    bigball1 says:Jul 5, 2012 11:02 AM

    What really seems “Improper” is that someone at any level, at any job has the right and authority to charge, convict, sentence and over see the appeal and never have to prove his actions…..
    A CBA should not be able to strip someone of any and all rights! If it does then there really would be NO limit. Any player in the NFL would be subject to a year, or many years suspensions at the very wim of the Commissioner. The authority agreed to in the CBA negotiations did not foresee the over reach that has occurred in this situation…..which results in filed lawsuits! My feelings are if Roger Goodell had conducted this in a FAIR manner, bring in the players, show why he believes what he believes and allowed them to answer to the issues in the clear of light , this would never have got to this point!

    duece5 says:

    Well, bigball1, welcome to the world of big-time sports business, and the lawyers and billionaire owners do make the rules……the players didn’t HAVE to agree to the CBA!! BUT THEY DID.
    They were counselled to do so. If they don’t want the commish to have that power, then argue the point in the CBA.

    It is an ABSOLUTE mental mismatch between the owners/NFL versus the players/NFLPA.

    Less face it……..most NFL players are the most mentally challenged of athletes on the planet……they CAN hit, catch, run, etc….but they are clueless to negotiations, handling/ budgeting their finances, their personal lives, etc……

    It is actually good for the entire league that the players have LESS control.
    Look what has happened to baseball and basketball…..MLB and the NBA are a joke with mediocre players making millions due to their GUARANTEED contracts……the price of a lousy NFL game approaches an NFL game…..prices through the roof to pay for the overbloated/overpaid NBA/MLB player……..no thanks.

    Why is the NFL great?

    Because the players are not allowed to control the league…….AND THAT IS A GOOD THING!!

    Personally, Goodell is doing a terrific job and keeps everyone on their respective toes.

    Keep up the good work, Commish!!!!

  42. chi01town says: Jul 7, 2012 9:11 AM

    There is a diffrence between pay for performance an paying for other players to get hurt, The Saints CHEATED.. They Targeted players with intent to hurt them. The coach NEVER denied that. They got what they deserved I just think Goodell was the wrong person to punish them because he cant understand the Saints and he DONT undersand FOOTBALL, The NFLPA need to do what ever they can to get rid of him NOW. you dont let a guy who has never played or coached the game change the rules of the game, an you definatly dont let him punish the players an coaches who know the game

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