Appeals panel overturns bounty suspensions

In the end, Judge Berrigan didn’t have to issue a ruling at all.

An internal appeals panel has overturned the bounty suspensions imposed on the players, a source with knowledge of the decision tells PFT.  The development was first reported by Jim Trotter of SI.com.

Victory is mine!!!!” Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma said, via Twitter.

Indeed it is, for now.  Unlike any ruling that may have been issued by Judge Berrigan, the ruling from the internal appeals panel, which overturned a prior decision from arbitrator Richard Burbank, is final and binding.  The league has no recourse — unless the league chooses to file a lawsuit attacking the outcome of the internal arbitration.  (Which is what the players had been trying to do before Judge Berrigan.)

As to Judge Berrigan, she may still issue a ruling adopting and enforcing the outcome of the internal appeal, giving federal credibility to the decision of the panel.

We’ve just received the decision from the panel.  We’ll be posting something that explains the ruling in further detail.

142 responses to “Appeals panel overturns bounty suspensions

  1. Dear Roger Goodell – You lose, you massive egomaniac. You failed. By your terrible handling of this situation, you managed to keep a bad story in the news now going on 6 months, and now, you have lost. I would hope those who own NFL teams will take note of this, see how poorly Goodell handled this entire situation, and begin to think about getting a new commissioner. Not that this one incident means he should lose his job, but because this one incident is entirely an example of just how bad at his job the arrogant Goodell is. I know there is no chance of that, because no matter how bad Goodell is, he rakes in cash for these owners hand over fist. And that is all that matters. But, as we prepare to watch replacement refs because Goodell has to squeeze every cent out of everything, with no regard to the good of the game, add this to his list of failures.

  2. This is exactly why GODell shouldn’t have all the discipline power. A fair 3rd party panel needs to oversee the process.

  3. Unbelievable. So i guess it’s cool to just go for the kill shot, instead of actually playing the game the way it was intended. I wouldn’t want to be a QB right now.

  4. Lame. Guess Vilma and co. will be able to get away with breaking the rules with no consequences. I used to like the Saints, but I have to say I’ll be rooting against them as long as Vilma is playing for them.

  5. Extremely disappointed and a real explanation is needed. And now that Jonathan Vilma is acts like such a jerk about it on Twitter makes me hope and pray the Saints lose and lose big this season.

  6. Yet again, the inmates are allowed to run the asylum.

    It is now open season on every player, there is no way to stop players from taking bounties now that the legal system has justified the activity. I set the first bounty on Drew Brees at $25,000.

    None of these players had better ever sue to NFL over concussions b/c they know better and they should reap what they sew.

  7. So basically, the Saints stole a Super Bowl from the Vikings and their players intentionally tried (and succeeded) in using dirty play to injure other players, and the only punishment is that their head coach has to sit at home for 16 games?

    Wow.

  8. Ok, I’m slightly a tard to the law and rules, and this is not biased for or against, but how/can/will this affect the coaches suspensions?

  9. Congrats Saints fans. Between the collusion case with the Boys ans Skins and this “bounty” gate I don’t see how anyone takes anything the Commissioner at face value anymore.

  10. It the beauty of the game ,{if you can’t take the heat get out the kitchen}it says it all if you can’t take the hit with there pay you shouldn’t be playing real football.

  11. Mike please explain the makeup of the appeals panel, and how this will affect any attempt by Goodell to punish the players.

    What avenues(if any) does the league have to get around this decision?

  12. love it…can’t wait to see all te responses from all those who thought the commissioner was right, and talked smacked about these guys. Good for them….not a saints fan, but am all about this commissioner coming off of his high horse by getting a dose of reality, and ego in check.

  13. So, the ruling by Goodell now needs to be appealed to the same 2 person appeal panel that governs on field activity. I wounder how long that process will take?

  14. If every players ban was reduced to half its length, that would be more than fair for both sides. Coaches bans should remain though

  15. I am sure a lot of people are disappointed that this case does not get to go to court. I, personally, really wanted to see Roger Goodell testify under oath about this case so we can finally get all the details and hopefully the truth about what really happened.

  16. See? Judge Berrigan didn’t have to “search for an excuse” after all. All you people who trashed the Saints for 5 months now owe them an apology.

  17. League has recourse. Tell the referees to eject the players as soon as they step on the field. Technically they are on the team…and still get a paycheck, just don’t get to play.

    Interesting that there’s no details on who this “panel” was.

  18. The league should throw out the coaching suspensions, too. This whole thing has been a PR disaster for the league, and they should wash their hands of it and put it behind them.

  19. Anyone who can answer this?? I thought this appeal was solely about whether Goodell had the authority to be arbitrator for this case. I was under the impression that winning the appeal would only result in the suspensions being lifted. But also in the case being heard by a different arbitrator, and punishments possibly being doled out again in the future. ANybody got any understanding of how this is going to move forward form here. I’ve been all over the web and no media source is speculating what comes next.

  20. i DEF don’t support “bounties” on players, but Goodell over-reached with the punishments!

    now, can we get these replacement refs off the field???

  21. Exactly. Goodell had nothing, has nothing and soon will be without a job.
    Even the NFL can’t convict without evidence

  22. Finally some people with with the sense to see through this witch hunt Godell is on. You cannot state your stance on an issue and be an unbias and fair judge over a case like this. This is a good day for the NFL and the players!

  23. Travesty!!

    This judge has opened up a whole new can of worms. So basically what she’s saying is that the agreement signed by the league and the players alike has no meanng.

    The players agreed to give Goodell this authority.

    Arrg………

  24. Wait what?! How is this possible?!? Those Saints players were basically PAID ASSASSINS hired to KILL Brett Favre and Kurt Warner!!

    J/K. Just fondly remembering how most people first reacted to the bounty story and how much of a joke it is today. NICE VILMA!!

  25. There were so many real questions about the ‘evidence’ of wrongdoing, Goodell should have gracefully dropped the whole matter a long time ago.

    Coaches should also be reinstated.

    And let’s get the regular refs back so we can complain about THEIR calls as usual.

  26. Wow !! Now maybe all the MORONS that stated the players should shut up and take their punishment will take their own advice !!!

  27. We were right a along,!!!! where are all the people who said the players agreed to the CBA and need to follow it? It is now 100% factual that the NFL was the one not following the CBA

  28. When the current labor deal ends, it should take 5 minutes to agree on. Because even if you agree to it, just sue over something you agreed to but didnt like.

  29. They are still guilty for what they did.

    _____________________________

    Prove it or shut up. This says otherwise.

  30. This may lend more strength to Vilma’s defamation suit. Roger clearly over stepped his authority under the CBA and falsely accused the Saints of having a bounty. He also damaged the integrity of the game, by illegally preventing Saints players from practicing. He this week he deserves to be fired.

  31. Doesn’t the picture look amazingly just like Roger?

    The dictator with the squinty, beady eyes, rubbing his hands together as he plots another evil smear/lie campaign

  32. I wonder how victorious he’ll feel after somebody goes low on him and pops his ACL. Just because you found a loophole back into the NFL, doesn’t mean the players have forgotten.

  33. Saints fans-
    No need to insist that doubters eat crow here. Just because they lifted the ban does NOT mean the bounty never happened. It simply means the court didn’t see decisive evidence. Funny how the same Saints fans have no problem crucifying Big Ben for being a rapist with no evidence, or Ray Lewis for being a murderer with no evidence, or Chad Johnson headbutting his wife with no evidence, but feel like people owe the Saints an apology because there was no solid evidence? Child please.

  34. On what basis were the suspensions lifted? It may be a procedural issue like the Ryan Braun MLB steroid issue in which everone knew he was guilty as hell, but got off on procedral crap. It is interesting, however, that the NFL’s argument that the NFLPA bargained/agreed the right for Goodell to be prosecutor, judge and jury, yet now is bound to follow the same arbitration procedural process without further appellate rights. What goes around comes around.

  35. “See? Judge Berrigan didn’t have to “search for an excuse” after all. All you people who trashed the Saints for 5 months now owe them an apology.”

    Ah no we don’t. This isn’t a “Not Guilty” verdict, it’s a Goodell doesn’t have sole authority verdict. Punishments are still coming.

  36. time for 1 of those teams that were targeted by the taints to break bree,s neck. would serve him right. gaurentee every player on the saints is a target for the other teams.

  37. Does anyone commenting understand this is not over? All this decision stated was the infractions by the players did not fall under Godell’s authority, and this will go to the panel that hears appeals for onfield activities. The suspensions are lifted, but new punishments could be doled out at a later time.

  38. Why blame the players … If the refs make the call … There’s no problems.
    It’s the refs who should be suspended … Oh wait they are … I guess that’s why the Raiders had very very few penalties.

  39. geauxjay: “All you people who trashed the Saints for 5 months now owe them an apology.”

    Neither I nor anyone who has bashed the Saints and called them out for the bounties owe them or their fans any sort of apology whatsoever. I saw them playing with the intent to injure Brett Favre and Kurt Warner in the 2009 playoffs. Those were cheap, malicious hits that the NFL allowed them to get away with until more players began publicly voicing frustration about their dirty plays (Roman Harper cheapshotting Steve Smith in the endzone, Harper trying to twist the ankle of Adrian Peterson, etc.).

    The only thing I would fault the NFL on is only labeling four players instead of more. In this day and age and with all the tapes that were made available, not once did they go after Harper nor Remi Ayodele (the one who truly shouted, “GIVE ME MY MONEY!”). Hope the NFL appeals and allows Vilma to act like a bigger crybaby than Drew Brees.

    As for the coaches and GM, they are not a part of the CBA (as far as I know). Therefore, they would have to appeal their own cases separately. Also means Williams may never return to the NFL.

  40. as i have noted many times, the nfl was looking for cover for injury liability and went and found a scapegoat.

    goodell and the entire league administration lied over and over to try to make a bounty for performance into a bounty for injury case. everyone knows every locker room had the former; and the nfl hasn’t proved the latter.

    hope this panel rubbing Goodell’s nose in it will persuade him to cool his jets. all the nonsense coming out of the league office, like a franchise in london or the 18 game schedule make it look hypocritical at best, foolish at worst.

  41. mvp43 says:Sep 7, 2012 4:05 PM

    Travesty!!

    This judge has opened up a whole new can of worms. So basically what she’s saying is that the agreement signed by the league and the players alike has no meanng.

    The players agreed to give Goodell this authority.

    Arrg………
    ———————————————————-

    The judge did nothing. She hasn’t even made a ruling. The suspensions were overturned by the appeals panel. Try reading more closely.

  42. rockthered1286 says: Sep 7, 2012 4:11 PM

    Saints fans-
    No need to insist that doubters eat crow here. Just because they lifted the ban does NOT mean the bounty never happened. It simply means the court didn’t see decisive evidence. Funny how the same Saints fans have no problem crucifying Big Ben for being a rapist with no evidence, or Ray Lewis for being a murderer with no evidence, or Chad Johnson headbutting his wife with no evidence, but feel like people owe the Saints an apology because there was no solid evidence? Child please.
    ______________________________________

    Best post on here. The player suspensions were a reach and they only got off the hook because of vague evidence that was too hard to directly implicate specific players… but the coaches put the system in place. They shouldn’t get any reprieve at all

  43. They got off because there was no real evidence it was Goodell who was judge jury and executioner, but he had no evidence that would be suitable for an actual court of law I love my niners but I’m glad Roger got some of his own medicine

  44. Well, well, well,

    Where are all those posters who were constantly bashing the Saints and calling them cheaters??? LOL!!

    I told you that there was no on the field proof that the Saints were hurting people for money and the Arbitrator saw it the same way. The Saints were in the bottom quarter of teams that cause opposing teams injuries under Greg Williams. No proof whatsoever. But Hitler Goodall was just so determined on punishing someone unjustly. And now Goodall looks stupid and everyone is laughing at his tyrant actions.

  45. Since Saints fans are crowing about this decision, I hope they’re not whining if any team decides to put bounties on any Saints players this season. This is what you wanted. Don’t be mad if other teams give you a taste of your own medicine.

  46. The decision — which was made by a panel comprised of retired federal Judge Fern Smith of San Francisco, retired federal Judge Richard Howell of New York, and Georgetown professor James Oldham — clears Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma, Browns linebacker Scott Fujita and Saints defensive end Will Smith to play this weekend if their teams desire.

  47. I never thought justice would be done, but I’m happy to be wrong.

    And for all of you who think this means bounties are for all intents and purposes legal…um, no. It just means you actually have to have proof if you want to accuse someone of such an act. It’s a pretty simple concept.

  48. This is great news, and a repudiation of Roger Goodell’s irresponsible reign of terror over the NFL.

    Locking out the players, locking out the officials, unjustified suspensions with little to no evidence, who knows what’s next? In any event, glad to see justice prevail here.

  49. since head hunting is now legal in the NFL, the skins need to take ever shot on the saints QB they can get. Lets see how the saints react to the skins trying to knock him out of the game if not for the season.

  50. There were lockouts of both the players and officials under Tagliabue as well as a player strike, get over yourself giablomni. These all have to do with the owners/labor….. nothing at all to do with commissioners

  51. i change my position dont go for the QB go for vilma, would love to see him get knocked out for the season. well you know what get them both out of the game.

  52. eerock41 says:
    Sep 7, 2012 5:03 PM
    since head hunting is now legal in the NFL, the skins need to take ever shot on the saints QB they can get. Lets see how the saints react to the skins trying to knock him out of the game if not for the season.

    So you think Brees is healthy because teams have not been taking any shot they can get on him? It’s clear to anyone who has watched a game that any shot they can get on him is few and far between because he’s had the best line in football.

  53. Vilma is a punk!!!!!!!! so every time a player steps out and does something wrong ,they will just go to their home state courts and get their punishments over ruled????

    i hope a bounty gets put out on vilma lol lol

  54. I guess the appeals panel is saying that as long as the hits themselves are within the rules, then there is noting wrong with the bounties. They are saying that motivating players to hit a little harder is not illegal so long as they are clean hits. In some ways this actually makes sense, although from a moral perspective, paying someone extra for injuring another person is unpalatable.

  55. It is amusing to me how many people post on here without having a clue to what is actually going on. What happened today is a group of NFL arbitrators ruled that goodell did not have the authority to rule on a pay for performance system. Goodell will likely suspend the players again next week or so under his authority as “conduct detrimental to the league”. Then it will go back to the courts again, this is far from over, you can expect this to drag on the entire season if the courts take near as long as they did with the starcaps case.

  56. Stinking internal panel is more interested in protecting despicable cheaters than in protecting the integrity of the NFL. Cheaters should be punished, period! If the NFL can’t run an honest operation then the fans will stop watching. I far prefer college football to pro football, would love to see the idiotic touchdown celebrations stopped. If the NFL doesn’t properly punish the Bountygate criminals then I’ll tune out the NFL until order is restored, if it ever is.

    NFL Run an Honest Game!

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