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Bounty gavel could drop any minute now

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As the official start of the 2012 regular season approaches, all eyes could quickly be shifting to Louisiana, if Judge Helen G. Berrigan lifts the bounty suspensions of Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma, Saints defensive end Will Smith, Browns linebacker Scott Fujita, and free-agent defensive end Anthony Hargrove.

Judge Berrigan could — and should — make a decision today.  A request for a temporary restraining order makes time of the essence.  The players believe they’ll be irreparably harmed if they aren’t permitted to play on Sunday.  Even if Judge Berrigan disagrees (and her statements at the August 10 hearing in the case suggest that she agrees), she should make a ruling before Sunday.   Otherwise, no ruling will operate as a rejection of the motion to lift the suspensions until the case concludes.

By waiting, she gives the NFL less time to appeal the decision.  The problem is that, with each passing day, the suspended players will miss another practice in preparation for Sunday’s games.

If Judge Berrigan has a flair for the dramatic, a decision will come in the next hour, just in time to steal some of the league’s thunder as a new season launches.

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52 Responses to “Bounty gavel could drop any minute now”
  1. karlsummers says: Sep 5, 2012 4:23 PM

    I don’t understand why Sean Payton is not part of this lawsuit. He needs to be fighting tooth and nail to preserve his job.

  2. tigershark49 says: Sep 5, 2012 4:25 PM

    The Saints are guilty. That was easy.

  3. mwindle1973 says: Sep 5, 2012 4:26 PM

    Florio, you are probably right…but I’m going to predict that she will not rule today. Just because the motion was made so late and it’s a hard decision to make. And has a good chance of being lifted on appeal. I hope she rules, and I hope the NFL rules on the appeals soon. This issue needs wrapped up and done away with whatever the outcome.

  4. andrewfbrowne says: Sep 5, 2012 4:27 PM

    I think she should rule today so as to put an end to litigation season in time for football season to start.

  5. Getoffmylawn! says: Sep 5, 2012 4:29 PM

    I can see after this ruling…. “Tune in every day at 4:00 pm for Judge Berrigan on CBS.” She will have he own show soon enough. What ruling will help precipitate that the most? There is your answer.

  6. mrlaloosh says: Sep 5, 2012 4:30 PM

    Go get ‘em Madam Judge!

  7. rhodeislandpatriotsfan says: Sep 5, 2012 4:31 PM

    Judging by the contents of U.S. District Judge Ginger Berrigan’s order issued today, it appears she will NOT be making a decision today.

  8. bucrightoff says: Sep 5, 2012 4:33 PM

    Bottom line: Whatever they did, they were told to stop….they chose to proceed anyways. What other job can you tell your boss yes, which was a lie, get caught lying and not suffer the consequences?

  9. bigwinintx says: Sep 5, 2012 4:33 PM

    Talk about home field advantage…

  10. wolley08 says: Sep 5, 2012 4:34 PM

    Not likely that the judge will rule today, given that she just ordered that the NFLPA and the suspended players file a brief stating whether or not counsel for the NFLPA should be disqualified due to any conflict of interest. She also ordered that the NFL file briefs in opposition to the TRO by Friday, noon.

  11. cwwgk says: Sep 5, 2012 4:34 PM

    Another news feed is reporting Judge Berrigan has issued an order requesting the players file additional pleadings. Disappointed over the failure of settlement talks, she’s now concerned their may be a conflict of interest between NFLPA lawyers and the players. Their briefs addressing the issue is due Thursday and the NFL’s response Friday.

    If that’s the case, it doesn’t appear a ruling is coming today.

  12. atwatercrushesokoye says: Sep 5, 2012 4:37 PM

    This shouldn’t be about her “flair for the dramatic” and fully about the law.

  13. wolley08 says: Sep 5, 2012 4:37 PM

    Interestingly, in her order today, Judge Berrigan noted, “the Court is doubtful that settlement negotiations in this matter will be fruitful, which the Court finds extremely disappointing…”

  14. wolley08 says: Sep 5, 2012 4:39 PM

    *correction: the NFL’s opposition to the TRO is due tomorrow, Thursday, at noon.

  15. louisianapacker says: Sep 5, 2012 4:46 PM

    According to ESPN she has asked for more information from the league, the NFLPA and the individuals. I don’t think any rulings will be coming today.

  16. slickster35 says: Sep 5, 2012 4:58 PM

    As soon as the gavel drops, and this stupidity is denied, Goodell should automatically double the suspensions for these “guys”.

  17. daveman8403 says: Sep 5, 2012 5:06 PM

    bucrightoff says:
    Sep 5, 2012 4:33 PM
    Bottom line: Whatever they did, they were told to stop….they chose to proceed anyways. What other job can you tell your boss yes, which was a lie, get caught lying and not suffer the consequences?

    ——————————————————————————————————–If they were punished for continuing after they were told to stop, then why was Scott Fujita punished? He was no longer with the saints after the 2009 season. doesn’t really jive, does it?

  18. paulnoga says: Sep 5, 2012 5:06 PM

    I do not understand why the Saints fans want the suspensions to end. If Vilma and Smith are not suspended, their salaries are in effect. Being that the Saints already signed other players to replace them, they will be over the Salary Cap. there is no way the NFL is going to let the Saints slide on the Cap.

  19. ripster65 says: Sep 5, 2012 5:11 PM

    “The players believe they’ll be irreparably harmed if they aren’t permitted to play on Sunday.”
    ————-
    Really? How on earth so? That makes no sense at all to me.

    Also, isn’t a restraining order meant to keep someone away? anyone…? Is that to “restrain” the immediate upholding of the suspensions?

  20. kane337 says: Sep 5, 2012 5:12 PM

    The court is in the Saints backyard so she will probably rule in favor of the Saints players. Just like the jury ruled in favor of Apple when it was held in Apple’s backyard.

  21. gus1824 says: Sep 5, 2012 5:13 PM

    Bring back old school football when it was worth watching ,now who wants to watch flag football.They get paid good to get hit and if they don’t like it they should not play.

  22. gus1824 says: Sep 5, 2012 5:15 PM

    If the true hurts you know what to call them…..

  23. someidiotfromouthereintheprojects says: Sep 5, 2012 5:20 PM

    nice picture guys. it’s so literal!!!

  24. bucrightoff says: Sep 5, 2012 5:34 PM

    daveman8403 says:Sep 5, 2012 5:06 PM

    bucrightoff says:
    Sep 5, 2012 4:33 PM
    Bottom line: Whatever they did, they were told to stop….they chose to proceed anyways. What other job can you tell your boss yes, which was a lie, get caught lying and not suffer the consequences?

    ——————————————————————————————————–If they were punished for continuing after they were told to stop, then why was Scott Fujita punished? He was no longer with the saints after the 2009 season. doesn’t really jive, does it?

    Ok, have Fujita back. In fact have Vilma and the rest of the losers back. Payton is the only suspension that mattes, and he’s gone for the year. The rest are scrubs.

  25. goredskins11 says: Sep 5, 2012 5:41 PM

    atwatercrushesokoye says: Sep 5, 2012 4:37 PM

    This shouldn’t be about her “flair for the dramatic” and fully about the law.
    —————————————————-
    I will agree. But, I would also say that the suspensions should not be about “Goodell making a statement to the league” and fully about doing what is fair and just without dragging peoples names through the mud without proof to back such severe allegations of implementing “bounties” to intentionally injure players.

  26. cornersss says: Sep 5, 2012 5:44 PM

    Isnt this like whining you cant work because you got arrested and have to go to jail for a few months?

    This harm was self caused by themselves and the loss of work time was the penalty. They could have been fired indefinitely like most average people would if we started a pool to injure fellow union members

  27. daveman8403 says: Sep 5, 2012 5:49 PM

    ornersss says:
    Sep 5, 2012 5:44 PM
    Isnt this like whining you cant work because you got arrested and have to go to jail for a few months?

    This harm was self caused by themselves and the loss of work time was the penalty. They could have been fired indefinitely like most average people would if we started a pool to injure fellow union members

    ——————————————————–

    They are saying they did NOT do this. This is not an attempt to just get out of punishment.

  28. cornersss says: Sep 5, 2012 5:49 PM

    “I don’t understand why Sean Payton is not part of this lawsuit. He needs to be fighting tooth and nail to preserve his job.”

    What do you think hes doing? He works for the nfl.He wasnt suspended indefinitely.

    Is it that hard to believe what he has to say will make the saints players look bad?Saints fans seem to think their coaches will vindicate them and i think thats fair tale talk. Only reason nfl wont let them talk is because even if they prove the players were lying and in on this it still makes the nfl look bad regardless because its players playing under he nfl did this.The players are just taking advantage of the nfl having to worry about its rules and its image. Its why spygate tapes were destroyed. Its why you wont hear from coaches or the full tapes now and the players lawyers know that.

  29. r0b1b0y says: Sep 5, 2012 5:52 PM

    @bucrightoff – For the record the League office and the commissioner are employees of Br. Benson and the other owners, they are no more the player’s bosses than the police and Mayor of your town are your boss.

  30. daveman8403 says: Sep 5, 2012 6:11 PM

    bucrightoff says:
    Sep 5, 2012 5:34 PM
    daveman8403 says:Sep 5, 2012 5:06 PM

    bucrightoff says:
    Sep 5, 2012 4:33 PM
    Bottom line: Whatever they did, they were told to stop….they chose to proceed anyways. What other job can you tell your boss yes, which was a lie, get caught lying and not suffer the consequences?

    ——————————————————————————————————–If they were punished for continuing after they were told to stop, then why was Scott Fujita punished? He was no longer with the saints after the 2009 season. doesn’t really jive, does it?

    Ok, have Fujita back. In fact have Vilma and the rest of the losers back. Payton is the only suspension that mattes, and he’s gone for the year. The rest are scrubs.

    —————————————————

    Sounds like you are more concerned with just crippling the saints than actual justice. And your screen name confirms only furthers that assumption.

  31. nashwaakkidd says: Sep 5, 2012 6:12 PM

    if the nfl lawyers weren’t smart enough to make the collective agreement legally bulletproof, they’re the ones who should be suspended/fined.no way this homer judge should be able to find legal grounds to overrule said agreement.any non partial judge would have thrown this out forthwith.take your punishment, you’re guilty.

  32. biggestsaintsfanever says: Sep 5, 2012 6:14 PM

    bucrightoff says:Sep 5, 2012 5:34 PM

    daveman8403 says:Sep 5, 2012 5:06 PM

    bucrightoff says:
    Sep 5, 2012 4:33 PM
    Bottom line: Whatever they did, they were told to stop….they chose to proceed anyways. What other job can you tell your boss yes, which was a lie, get caught lying and not suffer the consequences?

    ——————————————————————————————————–If they were punished for continuing after they were told to stop, then why was Scott Fujita punished? He was no longer with the saints after the 2009 season. doesn’t really jive, does it?

    Ok, have Fujita back. In fact have Vilma and the rest of the losers back. Payton is the only suspension that mattes, and he’s gone for the year. The rest are scrubs.

    bucrightoff doesn’t care about guilt or innocence…He just wants our coach gone so his team as a chance against us !!

  33. silentcount says: Sep 5, 2012 6:16 PM

    The judge gave Goodell until thursday to settle this with the NFLPA and players. At that time, fully expect her to correct the injustice that Goodell wrongly imposed.

  34. insider7 says: Sep 5, 2012 6:20 PM

    Let’s not forget one of the other essential elements for issuing a temporary restraining order: likelihood of success on the merits on the underlying claim. That is, these players must show that it is likely that they would succeed – after a full blown trial – on their underlying case which seeks to nullify the commissioner’s rulings and the punishment that followed.

    Now, the hometown judge may wrap her ruling up with some nice language which indicates that these players are likely to succeed in their claims against the league after a full trial. However, the long and very clear precedent favoring commissioners of major sports leagues to run their own shop is a huge mountain to climb and would be the basis of an emergency appeal by the league to the circuit court of appeals which would probably overturn such a finding by this hometown judge.

  35. mikebrownmustdie says: Sep 5, 2012 6:21 PM

    the tyrany of the black rbes continues…go ahead, delete it again…

  36. uglynora says: Sep 5, 2012 6:24 PM

    The Commish tried to coerce confessions out of the Saints’ players and coaches. When they refused to tell him what he wanted to hear, he accused them of lying. Until ANYONE can produce a shred of evidence otherwise, they are innocent and should be seen that way. All Goodell has against them is an ex assistant who is angry because he didn’t get real diamonds in his SB ring and a bunch of ambiguous statements from players and coaches that he has been caught using out of context trying to change the meaning of the statements.
    As for Sean Payton, he can’t fight it. He is not part of a union and as such, Rog can hit him with as draconian a penalty as he wants. It is completely to his discretion. Therefore, if Coach were to challenge it, Rog could extend his suspension indefinitely.
    And to the rest of you who assume guilt, you better hope Roger Goodell gets slapped down really good here, because if he doesn’t, he’s coming for your team next. He is on a mission to prove a point and he’s going to prove that point at any and all costs.

  37. gtodriver says: Sep 5, 2012 6:29 PM

    “Judge Berrigan could — and should — make a decision today. A request for a temporary restraining order makes time of the essence.”

    Once again, Mike, you’re trying to create a story…

    Berrigan’s a few very key decisions so far:

    1. “Pay for Performance” (which the players have admitted to) constitutes a bounty.

    2. The NFLPA and their attorney’s appear to have a conflict of interest in their attempts to represent these players.

    Based on the admissions of the players to having participated in (by Berrigan’s defintion) a bounty program which violates NFL rules, it’s clear that Goodell is correct in his findings.

    Based on the facts that the NFLPA, by attempting to represent the suspended players, appears to have a strong conflict of interest to the rest of the union membership.

    The rest of the union members (other than the Saints players) were targets of the admitted bounty program (once again, using Berrigan’s definition) that paid Saints players if they were successful in injuring a fellow union member to the point that they were unable to continue playing in the game.

    Saints fans can stomp their feet and hold their breath all they want, but the players have admitted to the offenses – and they (and their fans) should accept their punishment!

  38. ernie ernie says: Sep 5, 2012 6:38 PM

    I hope the judge – a liberal left wing looney, lets the collective bargaining process play out. The union and NFL have a contract and this thing deserves to be settled outside some court in, of all places, New Orleans. Not that there isn’t a little slant in their favor.
    I hope Vima misses the whole dam season.

  39. ernie ernie says: Sep 5, 2012 6:41 PM

    Late news. The judge has decided not to rule but asked for more appeal information and basically scolded both sides for being entrenched and not working out something on their own.
    She stated that this feud has been going on before the bounty scandal and needs to be settled by reduced sentences on these people.

  40. ascensionparish says: Sep 5, 2012 7:16 PM

    daveman8403 says:Sep 5, 2012 5:49 PM

    They are saying they did NOT do this. This is not an attempt to just get out of punishment.

    ______________________

    Actually, Vilma, Vitt, and other Saints personnel have signed sworn affidavits, under penalty of perjury, that the Saints did not do what the NFL has said they did.

    But why let little things like facts get in the way?

  41. purplegreenandgold says: Sep 5, 2012 7:19 PM

    I hope Vima misses the whole dam season.
    ======================================all us Saints fans hope Vima misses the whole dam season also.

  42. musicman495 says: Sep 5, 2012 7:23 PM

    bucrightoff says: Sep 5, 2012 4:33 PM

    Bottom line: Whatever they did, they were told to stop….they chose to proceed anyways. What other job can you tell your boss yes, which was a lie, get caught lying and not suffer the consequences?
    ———————–
    How can Jonathan Vilma be suspended for a year for lying about putting bounty money on a table, if he is telling the truth – as he swore in federal court – that it never happened?

    Sorry to muddy the water with the facts…

  43. gtodriver says: Sep 5, 2012 7:36 PM

    ascensionparish says:

    “Actually, Vilma, Vitt, and other Saints personnel have signed sworn affidavits, under penalty of perjury, that the Saints did not do what the NFL has said they did.

    But why let little things like facts get in the way?”

    Well, if you want the facts….

    Vilma (and others) admitted to “pay for performance”. Judge Berrigan has defined “pay for performance” as a “bounty”.

    Goodell suspended Vilma (and others) for participating in a “bounty” system and for lying about their participation and the existence of a “bounty” program.

    So yeah, why let little things like FACTS get in the way….

  44. sfsaintsfan says: Sep 5, 2012 7:40 PM

    Free Sean Payton flying over the stadium tonight.

    Wonder if NBC has the stones to put it on TV?

  45. biggestsaintsfanever says: Sep 5, 2012 7:41 PM

    @gtodriver-What fairy tale did you read. I read everything the judge said, and my take is on the opposite side of te spectrum from your’s !!

  46. cwwgk says: Sep 5, 2012 8:15 PM

    @biggestsaintsfanever: it’s not a fairy tale. On August 15, 2012, PFT outlined some of Judge Berrigan’s comments:

    “’I’m kind of seeing, like, is there really a dispute here as to — I agree, and I’ll get into it in a few minutes about the penalties and so forth, but it seems to me that there is a confluence here that what Mr. Goodell says Mr. Vilma did was in effect admitted at the hearing a couple weeks ago,”’

    She accepted Goodell’s contention that The players admitted to participating in a bounty program. Her concern was not the validity of the allegations but the punishments and the discipline process:

    “Judge Berrigan made it clear that, despite her concern that what the Saints admitted to doing amounts to a ‘bounty,’ she has even bigger concerns about the process that the league employed.”

    So apparently you consider Judge Berrigan to be a “hater” because the federal judge presiding over this case is of the opinion that the Saints admitted to participating in a bounty program.

  47. rmdz7 says: Sep 5, 2012 8:23 PM

    Repeat after me:

    JUDGE BERRIGAN IS A FEDERAL JUDGE. SHE WAS BORN AND RAISED IN NEW YORK. She’s not a “New Orleans judge” or a “backyard judge”, or anything like that.

  48. somekat says: Sep 5, 2012 8:27 PM

    Still don’t see how this is even still going on. The rules were collectively bargained. If she can change the ruling, any employee, or employer can ignore the contract. There is a reason they negotiate. The only way they could change it is if it violated their civil rights. Since nobody has any specific right to play in the NFL (or we’d all be playing), they judicial has no say.

    Just say you are impotent and get it over with. The league is not going to fall for your brow beating tactics. Their lawyers are better lawyers than you, they know you can’ do anything about it.

  49. gtodriver says: Sep 5, 2012 8:29 PM

    biggestsaintsfanever says:

    “@gtodriver-What fairy tale did you read. I read everything the judge said, and my take is on the opposite side of te spectrum from your’s !!”

    No fairy tales (unlike most of what you and your fellow Saints fans have been reading) read by me.

    If you’d “read everything” as you claim, you’d know that I’m right.

    Right here on PFT…

    “For starters, she expressed concern that payment of money for clean, legal hits that knock an opponent out of the game (temporarily or permanently) are bounties.

    “I’m kind of seeing, like, is there really a dispute here as to — I agree, and I’ll get into it in a few minutes about the penalties and so forth, but it seems to me that there is a confluence here that what Mr. Goodell says Mr. Vilma did was in effect admitted at the hearing a couple weeks ago…”

    So now that you’ve really “read everything” Judge Berrigan has said about the case – do you agree with me now?

  50. rmdz7 says: Sep 5, 2012 8:42 PM

    @ gtodriver:

    cute rationalization, but no. Goodell suspended coaches and players for what he called a pay-to-injure program of which Goodell alleged he had 50,000 pages of evidence that proved Saints players were paid for intentionally hurting other players.

    And after his “shock-and-awe” mud-slinging media campaign, those harsh words have “morphed” into “payments for some plays in which legal hits may have resulted in the opposing player leaving the game”.

    People are fixated on the word “bounty”, and apparently in people’s minds the word “bounty” is just one notch above, or in the same category as, “contract hit”. Gooddell purposely went on a very public campaign to make sure that was branded in people’s minds before the players even had a chance to defend themselves.

  51. gtodriver says: Sep 5, 2012 9:06 PM

    @rmdz7

    Deny the truth if it makes you feel better.

    Goodell says it was a bounty.

    Judge Berrigan agrees with Goodell.

    The folks who are “rationalizing” are those trying to deny the truth about the Saints bounty program.

  52. addmack24 says: Sep 6, 2012 10:50 AM

    Judge Berrigan doesn’t think that goodell should have made the ruling. It should have been made by the arbitrator as a salary cap violation not as conduct detrimental to the league. Under the CBA it clearly says that players can’t be suspended for a pay for performance violation which is what we are looking at in this case. Berrigan said that monies paid for injuring a player should be catagorized as a bounty, but there was no intentional targeting players like goodell has made it out to be. goodell is a liar and should be held accountable for his abuse of power.

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