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Will Smith: No conflict of interest with NFLPA

Will Smith AP

The four players suspended by the league for their roles in the Saints bounty program are still waiting  to hear from Judge Helen G. Berrigan about whether or not their suspensions will be upheld.

Berrigan threw a curveball into the process Wednesday by issuing an order requiring lawyer Jeffrey Kessler to explain if has a conflict of interest as a result of representing both the NFLPA and three of the suspended players. Berrigan also said that she’s “disappointed” that both sides have failed to engage in serious discussions to settle this case without the help of the court.

Saints defensive end Will Smith, suspended four games by the league, released a statement on Thursday in response to Berrigan’s ruling. Smith argues that there’s no conflict of interest and that the NFL has been at fault for the lack of settlement conversations.

“As we get closer to kick-off Sunday, I am disappointed my playing status remains in limbo.  I respect Judge Berrigan’s order and my legal team has been diligent in responding. The NFLPA has represented the players inline with their valued role in serving a unique group of professionals, we have been personally involved in every part of this process and there is no conflict of interest to speak of. Irreparable harm has already been levied on me and the players. We have been unfairly labeled and punished by this process. While we believe in mediation and settlement, the NFL has never expressed a genuine interest in a mediation process that would provide the players with a fair venue that could be trusted, nor made a settlement offer for us to professionally consider, at any time.That is why we have asked the court for just relief. It is my sincere hope to have this matter resolved as quickly as possible so I may return to my job, teammates and fans, as we take the field against the Redskins.”

A decision from Berrigan is still expected before the start of this weekend’s games, although it’s unclear if that would help Smith and the others get on the field in Week One.

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17 Responses to “Will Smith: No conflict of interest with NFLPA”
  1. voiceofreasonsays says: Sep 6, 2012 12:48 PM

    They can all comeback. No one on that defense will stop RGIII as far as I’m concerned.

  2. kattykathy says: Sep 6, 2012 1:01 PM

    There is no conflict. The union is supposed to protect the players and represent players against management.

    There was no pay for injury plan. The 4 players did not do what Goodell accused them of doing. They did NOT try to injure their fellow union members. They were rewarded for good hard, LEGAL, and WITHIN THE RULES hits.

    So if they were not seeking to injure their fellow members, then there can be no conflict of interest.

  3. mtg9287 says: Sep 6, 2012 1:07 PM

    You would know what he is capable of considering he hasn’t played one regular season NFL game in his life huh? Pretty sure the saints are going to curb stomp the skins.

  4. mrlaloosh says: Sep 6, 2012 1:10 PM

    RG3 will be injured by Roman Harper in the second quarter.too bad.

  5. thcnote says: Sep 6, 2012 1:12 PM

    If Will Smith wrote that then I’m The Easter Bunny.

  6. downdabayou says: Sep 6, 2012 1:18 PM

    Then Mr. voice of reason says, you don’t know the first thing about football, evidently, you watched the preseason and think that vanilla defense is what he will see, he will never see that type of defense until next preseason, Saints 38, Redskins 24.

  7. thejuddstir says: Sep 6, 2012 1:44 PM

    “…..While we believe in mediation and settlement, the NFL has never expressed a genuine interest in a mediation process that would provide the players with a fair venue that could be trusted, nor made a settlement offer for us to professionally consider, at any time.”
    —————————————————-
    Did any of these players ever attend their hearings with Goodell…..NO ! Did any of them attend their appeals hearing……NO. a “fair venue that can be trustd”……means the players want their mama to be the judge and will only trust their mama (except dez byrant of course). Bottom line is these players want to 100% circumvent the CBA that they and their union all agreed to becuz they don’t like the rulings Goodell made…..take your ball and go home cryin’ you sniveling babies.

  8. eaglesw00t says: Sep 6, 2012 1:57 PM

    What exactly are they supposed to mediate?

    They were suspended. When they were offered an opportunity to appeal it, they ignored it, and took it to “phase 2″ (court)

    They dont trust Goodell, and think they are being persecuted. They blew their own opportunity. There should be no mediation. What is there to mediate?

  9. regulator01 says: Sep 6, 2012 2:05 PM

    what about the players that had bounties on them, how can the nflpa support these guys and be protecting the victims of bounties too?

  10. hoodatnva says: Sep 6, 2012 2:12 PM

    They did appeal, and attended their appeals. None were asked any questions directly. NFL just made a grandstanding show of their supposed evidence, presented no witnesses, no chance to cross examine or determine the evidences validity, and NFL had exculpatory evidence which it did not present. then ended the meeting and nothing changed.

    That was their appeals process.

  11. russ51 says: Sep 6, 2012 2:21 PM

    regulator01- Name one player targeted with a bounty, Show your proof, then I’ll respect your opinion.

  12. Nick says: Sep 6, 2012 2:21 PM

    @kattykathy says:
    Sep 6, 2012 1:01 PM
    There is no conflict. The union is supposed to protect the players and represent players against management.
    ——————————–

    While from a practical perspective this may make sense, that’s not how it’s seen in labor law.

    For example (and I acknowledge this isn’t occuring here) if the Union breached its duty of fair represenation of the players each would need to have separate attorneys.

    While the interests of the NFLPA and the players are in line on the essential issue of arguing against the suspensions, that does not mean their *interest* is always the same. Wanting the same end result does not mean that both of the interests will be equally represented.

  13. addmack24 says: Sep 6, 2012 2:33 PM

    regulator01 says:
    Sep 6, 2012 2:05 PM
    what about the players that had bounties on them, how can the nflpa support these guys and be protecting the victims of bounties too?

    ————————————————–

    there has been no evidence presented to support that there were any bounties on anyone!!! Why don’t these people understand this? Goodell said there was but there is nothing else to support this allegation. The decision to punish these players and coaches is to save face for the NFL against the pending concussion lawsuits. Stop drinking the koolaid and look at the facts. It just doesn’t add up.

  14. hoach20 says: Sep 6, 2012 2:54 PM

    see u in a month will

  15. FinFan68 says: Sep 6, 2012 4:09 PM

    1. His lawyer or PR guy probably wrote that. 2. There is the fundamental dispute on what happened. The judge must account for the possibility of either side being right and if the NFL is correct in their allegations, there is absolutely a conflict of interest. 3. The players chose not to participate in the investigation. They chose not to meet with Goodell before he made his decision and they chose not to credibly participate in the appeals process because they feel the venue could not be trusted. They are simply trying to avoid punishment by delaying it through the court system. That is circumventing the CBA. Had they gone through the process and then challenged its fairness, they would have had a better chance.

    The judge has publicly stated she wants to rule in favor of the players but has yet to do so. That is likely because she has not found a legal basis to justify that ruling. That doesn’t mean the league is 100% in the right but points to the players hurting their own cause with their defiance and contempt of the agreed upon process.

  16. wolley08 says: Sep 6, 2012 6:05 PM

    @FinFan68:

    Vilma was informed that he was suspended via a news report from ESPN. The NFL did not give him an opportunity to meet with Goodell before he made his decision. In fact, after being informed that he had been suspended, Vilma made several requests for meetings with Goodell, on the condition that Goodell provide Vilma with the so-called evidence against him. The NFL refused to provide the evidence in advance of the meeting; so, there was no meeting.

    Additionally, the players did not participate in the sham appeal because doing so would be a waiver of their right to seek relief via the court system.

  17. mogogo1 says: Sep 7, 2012 12:08 PM

    addmack24 says:
    Sep 6, 2012 2:33 PM
    regulator01 says:
    Sep 6, 2012 2:05 PM
    what about the players that had bounties on them, how can the nflpa support these guys and be protecting the victims of bounties too?

    ————————————————–

    there has been no evidence presented to support that there were any bounties on anyone!!!

    _______________
    _______________

    Not that it would matter if there was. The players unions are in a constant conflict-of-interest when it comes to suspension cases. Guys fail drug tests, get arrested (even convicted) and the union will always file an appeal for them, despite the fact the rule-abiding union members are negatively impacted by the rule-breaker’s actions. (In the case of PEDs, the clean union members are literally losing jobs to the dirty union members. Yet only the dirty guys get any help from the union.) It’s such a crazy system, rule-abiding players must at times wonder what good the union does for them at all.

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