Some have been suggesting that the reported offer of an eight-game reduction to Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma’s one-year suspension would be unprecedented.
It wouldn’t be. It has happened before. This year.
Just three months ago, the league negotiated a settlement of defensive lineman Ryan McBean’s lawsuit filed in response to a six-game suspension by chopping it in half. McBean, suspended by the NFL for the dreaded “non-human urine sample,” had exhausted the appeal process and then filed a lawsuit challenging the fairness of the arbitration process.
Just like Vilma has done.
We argued back in May that the league’s willingness to resolve the lawsuit undermines the power that the league possesses over the appeal process. Even if the league offers (directly or hypothetically) to cut the suspension in half and Vilma refuses to accept (directly or hypothetically) to do so, the mere suggestion that the league would do something other than what the league already has deemed to be the right thing makes the league’s process seem suspect.
And that’s something that wouldn’t happen if a truly neutral and independent arbitrator were handling these appeals.