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Bounty suspensions will now go back to the Commissioner

Roger Goodell AP

The players suspended by Commissioner Roger Goodell for involvement in the Saints bounty suspension rightfully have claimed victory.

For now.

Inspection of the four-page summary decision signed by Richard J. Howell on behalf of a unanimous three-person panel reveals that the case will now go back to Goodell.  The panel decided that, based on the various overlapping jurisdictions of Goodell and the “System Arbitrator” and others under the labor deal, it’s unclear that the suspensions imposed by Goodell fall within his jurisdiction, and not the jurisdiction of the “System Arbitrator.”

(Confused yet?  So are we.)

Actually, it’s not that complicated.  The CBA gives different people different responsibility for sorting out different types of disputes.  Here, the arbitration panel decided it’s not entirely clear whether Goodell imposed the suspensions under his authority to prevent conduct detrimental to the game or whether he infringed on the exclusive power of the “System Arbitrator” to penalize violations of the salary cap, arising from the fact that money potentially changed hands in connection with the pay-for-performance/bounty program.

“While we agree, then, that the Commissioner had jurisdiction to discipline the Players in this case, we are uncertain that the discipline handed down was attributable, in any part, to that aspect of the Program which lies within the exclusive jurisdiction of the System Arbitrator,” Howell writes.  “While we could speculate, it is not clear from the record before us whether had the distinction we draw in mind at the time he disciplined the players.”

It all could, in time, end up in the same place.  For now, however, the panel has opted to be careful.  “In light of the serious nature of the penalties imposed,” Howell writes, “we believe caution is appropriate.”

Though the NFL eventually may win the war, losing this battle will have an enormous P.R. impact.  People will view the Commissioner’s authority as being less than what it may be, and internally the blame will fall on the lawyers who failed to properly draw the lines when drawing up the penalties.

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59 Responses to “Bounty suspensions will now go back to the Commissioner”
  1. pmd5319 says: Sep 7, 2012 4:10 PM

    Who Dat

  2. datageek94 says: Sep 7, 2012 4:11 PM

    Time for Goodell to be a man and drop the issue, he had nothing of substance in his ‘evidence.’

    And drop the suspensions of the coaches, they are based, except for the videotaped comments, on sand as well. No foundation.

  3. freshwatergamefish says: Sep 7, 2012 4:13 PM

    I have no sympathy for those guys after watching the Kurt Warner hit.

  4. denverscott says: Sep 7, 2012 4:13 PM

    So “Victory is mine” might yet be premature. Vilma should hold his tongue for now.

  5. wludford says: Sep 7, 2012 4:14 PM

    This sounds more like a procedural snafu rather than any final outcome. Goodell needs to suspend them again for ‘conduct detrimental to the game’ ASAP to make sure the suspensions stick.

  6. kattykathy says: Sep 7, 2012 4:14 PM

    Judge Berrigan can make it very clear by issueing a ruling against the dictator. In effect slamming the door on Goodell’s sham, nailing it shut, sealing it with concrete, and parking a bus up against it.

  7. brienos80 says: Sep 7, 2012 4:15 PM

    so now that the players have won the appeal (theoretically) the coaches suspended should be on their way back too, no?

    It wouldnt make much sense otherwise. Either way, there needs to be much better checks and balances at NFL headquarters. GODell shouldnt rule all.

  8. purpleguy says: Sep 7, 2012 4:16 PM

    Just as I thought, a hollow procedural victory. Saints fans can shout victory all they want, but it’s nothing more than a procedural technicality like Ryam Braun’s MLB steroid deal.

  9. dalucks says: Sep 7, 2012 4:16 PM

    Now, we all need to re-evaluate whether or not Roger Goodell is the right commissioner for the NFL. That makes the league look bad and no one wants an 18 game regular season. Most fans prefer lower ticket prices.

  10. theherbsman says: Sep 7, 2012 4:16 PM

    Roger Goodell is flabbergasted

  11. blackandbluedivision says: Sep 7, 2012 4:16 PM

    Watch him. Let the players play but send their game checks to the players and teams of the victims of their bounty scandal.

    “Sure you can play, Vilma”

  12. pmd5319 says: Sep 7, 2012 4:16 PM

    If you don’t like seeing people get hit, then don’t watch football.

  13. traveye99 says: Sep 7, 2012 4:20 PM

    Bring out the Saints fans who think this actually clears the team from wrong doing. Still a dirty organization.

  14. miriam45 says: Sep 7, 2012 4:20 PM

    Maybe now Goodell will climb off his high horse

  15. jpspear says: Sep 7, 2012 4:21 PM

    We can now start reading the shocked comments of those who cannot cite any evidence but know the Saints are guilty. These same people thought the Saints were stupid to challenge Goodell. The Saints aren’t innocent, they’re just not guilty of what Goodell claimed without any backing. Punish them for pay-for-performance, admit pay-for-injury was made up and move on.

  16. geniusfan says: Sep 7, 2012 4:21 PM

    “And drop the suspensions of the coaches, they are based, except for the videotaped comments, on sand as well. No foundation.”

    First of all the coaches (and Loomis) aren’t involved they are staying suspended.

    Also the coaches (Payton, Williams etc) admitted that they had been running a bounty program, so yeah…..

  17. gafraidh says: Sep 7, 2012 4:22 PM

    I’m not a lawyer, and the mattress at the Holiday Inn Express was a bit lumpy last night, but isn’t this really a win for Goodell? Basically they are saying, “we’re not sure of the exact reason for the suspension. If it was for conduct unbecoming, then Goodell is in the right. If the payments are counted as palyer benefit and messing with the salary cap, then Goodell should not be the one passing judgement.”

    I think the PR aspect is a bit of a red herring. I’m not sure that the league is too concerned with it since these things tend to pass with time. Looking for a different set of advisors on the other hand, may make sense.

  18. jpspear says: Sep 7, 2012 4:23 PM

    Traveye99: How’d that wiretapping accusation work out?

  19. joemammy says: Sep 7, 2012 4:23 PM

    Why did it take until Friday of game-week to come to that conclusion?

  20. bossaliniee says: Sep 7, 2012 4:24 PM

    Goodell and the NFL u guys look silly, this whole thing just blew up in your face. Stop trying to rule with an iron fist, these guys are professionals which most of them have college degrees.90% of the players in your league are class act guys, but your giving your league a bad look by playing this tough guy role.Congrats players-good luck.

  21. newtonworth says: Sep 7, 2012 4:24 PM

    no one cares about whiners like saints fans and players even the pats didnt whine about getting caught for spy-gate this much

  22. jpspear says: Sep 7, 2012 4:25 PM

    blackandbluedivision: Good idea. Show me any evidence of a payment being made and tell me for which player and to which team. There’s nothing for Favre, nothing for Warner, nothing for anybody else. 50,000 pages and they have nothing.

  23. fflnick says: Sep 7, 2012 4:26 PM

    dalucks says:
    Sep 7, 2012 4:16 PM
    Now, we all need to re-evaluate whether or not Roger Goodell is the right commissioner for the NFL. That makes the league look bad and no one wants an 18 game regular season. Most fans prefer lower ticket prices.
    ————————————————

    An overwhelming amount of fans who actually purchase season tickets prefer 18 regular games over the current setup now. This is spoken by someone who clearly doesn’t have season tickets.

  24. Mr. Wright 212 says: Sep 7, 2012 4:29 PM

    2009*.

  25. themph says: Sep 7, 2012 4:31 PM

    Roger Goddell needs an explanation.

  26. marygratton18 says: Sep 7, 2012 4:32 PM

    So do the players get to play Sunday or not? I have reread this several times and I don’t understand, but I hope the players are permitted to play. The season is here; people have been punished enough. And I am a Redskins fan–I have no vested interest in the Saints. But I do think the Saints team was scapegoated over nomenclature. The only one obviously in the wrong was Greg Williams and he is gone, likely for good.

    The Comish should just let suspended coaches, GM, and players go back to work and be satisfied with time they already served. In the end, that may save His job.

  27. jpspear says: Sep 7, 2012 4:34 PM

    geniusfan: Do a little homework and find out what Payton and Williams actually confessed to. Hint: It wasn’t a bounty program.

  28. bskarter4 says: Sep 7, 2012 4:35 PM

    Roger Goodell needs an explanation.

  29. traveye99 says: Sep 7, 2012 4:35 PM

    Jpspear: who Said anything about wire tapping? Just saying that the coaches admitted to the bounty system, therefore this is still a dirty organization. Just because the players got a theoretical win (for now) doesn’t clear the organization of wrong doing.

  30. twisteditoff says: Sep 7, 2012 4:36 PM

    in the end it will still be 16 games but now will drag into the next year

  31. Mr. Wright 212 says: Sep 7, 2012 4:38 PM

    Vilma, Fujita and Man in Black will play Sunday. These guys are such hack players that they COULDN’T hurt anyone to even carry the bounty out (although they were rolling up on Favre’s ankle intentionally).

  32. cliffordc05 says: Sep 7, 2012 4:41 PM

    I do remember some references to the issue of salary cap violations but I do not know if they were made by the league. Is there any written documentation of the league indicating that there were salary cap implications in the bounty investigation? If the league referenced the issue of the salary cap then it seems to me that Jeffrey Kessler is not the only incompetent attorney involved in these proceedings.

  33. blackandbluedivision says: Sep 7, 2012 4:43 PM

    jpspear says:
    Sep 7, 2012 4:25 PM
    blackandbluedivision: Good idea. Show me any evidence of a payment being made and tell me for which player and to which team. There’s nothing for Favre, nothing for Warner, nothing for anybody else. 50,000 pages and they have nothing.
    ________________________

    Goodell’s got it. Just because they haven’t shown you doesn’t mean they don’t have the evidence.

  34. fmwarner says: Sep 7, 2012 4:51 PM

    newtonworth says: Sep 7, 2012 4:24 PM

    no one cares about whiners like saints fans and players even the pats didnt whine about getting caught for spy-gate this much
    ============================

    True, but then again the Pats were actually found guilty with evidence. The Saints were found guilty with “Because I said so.”

  35. dadindebt6 says: Sep 7, 2012 4:51 PM

    “While we agree, then, that the Commissioner had jurisdiction to discipline the Players in this case,

    ——————————————————-

    Too many people seem to be overlooking this line. The arbitration panel clearly says Goodell can discipline. He just needs to explain it better.

    Finally, for all those Saints fans claiming the evidence did not hold up. No evidence has yet been presented in these procedings. These have all been procedure rulings as to who has the authority and who doesn’t. Although this panel told Goodell to clarify his reasons for the suspensions, they clearly say he has the authority to suspend the players.

  36. dadindebt6 says: Sep 7, 2012 4:54 PM

    PS Judge Berrigan will now have to defer to the decison of the arbitration panel which means Goodell can re-insate the suspensions and she can not do anything about it.

  37. meswant says: Sep 7, 2012 4:56 PM

    every single lawsuit against the NFL for concussions & other injuries should be thrown out. If the panel is allowing the bounty system to continue then the NFL should not be held responsible for player’s injuries. True I believe Goodell is power-hungry but I agree with he going after the taint’s & their bounty system. Most likely the taint’s gave the panel people some bounty money to swing the vote their way.

  38. Mr. Wright 212 says: Sep 7, 2012 4:57 PM

    Saints fans are getting ahead of themselves. Already gloating again. Goodell HAS to punish these players, or else the league can count themselves SUNK in that 3,000-player class action lawsuit.

  39. dadindebt6 says: Sep 7, 2012 4:57 PM

    jpspear says:Sep 7, 2012 4:34 PM

    geniusfan: Do a little homework and find out what Payton and Williams actually confessed to. Hint: It wasn’t a bounty program
    ——————————————————

    No. They admitted to a pay for performance program that included extra pay for the ‘performance’ of hitting and causing ‘cartoffs’
    which counts as rewarding an injury which is a bounty.

  40. Mr. Wright 212 says: Sep 7, 2012 4:58 PM

    fmwarner says: Sep 7, 2012 4:51 PM

    newtonworth says: Sep 7, 2012 4:24 PM

    no one cares about whiners like saints fans and players even the pats didnt whine about getting caught for spy-gate this much
    ============================

    True, but then again the Pats were actually found guilty with evidence. The Saints were found guilty with “Because I said so.”
    ————

    Oh, there’s evidence, or else Payton and Vitt would not remain suspended, without appealing, at that. Don’t be naive.

  41. heroofthisparish says: Sep 7, 2012 5:09 PM

    How is this a win for the players? They have not been found to be innocent, just that maybe the Commish is not able to issue the suspensions… but someone still will because, on the face of it, they still appear guilty as sin.

    At best, this is a stay of execution.

  42. rmdz7 says: Sep 7, 2012 5:10 PM

    @blackandbluedivision

    Care to pinpoint who the “victims” are? Let me guess, Brett Farve. I don’t, man. He looked ok throwing that INT with 19 seconds left in the game inside field goal range.

  43. rmdz7 says: Sep 7, 2012 5:11 PM

    @ Mr. Wright:

    The coaches did appeal. They are just in a different situation.

  44. ty49er4life says: Sep 7, 2012 5:12 PM

    Ya so i don’t get it. Are the players reinstated? And allowed to purposely try to injure ppl for pay? I don’t agree with all goodell did but I do think some punishment was warranted. Goodell has too much power there should be a third party for appeals its not fair he is judge jury and executioner.

  45. ty49er4life says: Sep 7, 2012 5:13 PM

    Anyone know goodells email address

  46. takingbovadasmoney says: Sep 7, 2012 5:13 PM

    Don’t gloat too much Saints fans, as hard assed as Goodell is, I seriously doubt this is over.

  47. geauxjay says: Sep 7, 2012 5:15 PM

    Goodell HAS to punish these players, or else the league can count themselves SUNK in that 3,000-player class action lawsuit.
    —————————————

    And that’s the problem. The Saints are guilty because the NFL needs a scapegoat so that they can win the concussion lawsuit? It doesn’t even matter that there is no evidence or proof? Do you hear what you are saying before you wrote it?

  48. rmdz7 says: Sep 7, 2012 5:19 PM

    … and haters, don’t get your hopes up that Goodell is going to turn around and re-suspend the players next week, or ever. The burden on him is now to prove individual instances of pay per injure, and this time around, he will have to produce evidence of the individual instances when a payment was made to intentionally injure a player, and that is going to involve Goodell making public his so called “50,000 pages of evidence”, and given the zealousness of the league and the commissioner in hiding the evidence and their sources, the outcome is going to eb either the NFL fabricated a lot of the “evidence”, or it is going to show all teams have some sort of money pool going… and I doubt Goodell is going to suspend 32 HCs.

    The money pool was never in question. All teams have them. The allegations made by Goodell that players received money to intentionally injure players, and the very public campaign he went on, that’s what has caused the outrage.

  49. mwindle1973 says: Sep 7, 2012 5:30 PM

    People celebrating can stop, regardless of how you feel, the case will now likely be partially heard by Goodell, and other aspects heard by the System Arbitrator. Or all will be heard by System Arbitrator or possibly again by only Goodell. This is a do-over basically. We are right back at the start.

  50. mwindle1973 says: Sep 7, 2012 5:51 PM

    Here’s a quote from the decision today: “…we remand the case back to the Commissioner…” this is a very temporary victory. They may be suspended again by the next game.

  51. pitt9292 says: Sep 7, 2012 5:58 PM

    Mybe but some of those guys will play this weekend it sounds like. Take that Goodell. HAH

  52. musicman495 says: Sep 7, 2012 6:32 PM

    newtonworth says: Sep 7, 2012 4:24 PM

    no one cares about whiners like saints fans and players even the pats didnt whine about getting caught for spy-gate this much.
    ——————————-
    Here’s a news flash – ever think being innocent of the pay to injure charges against them might have something to do with it? No, I suppose you wouldn’t.

  53. touchdownroddywhite says: Sep 7, 2012 7:45 PM

    I know there is more to come, and rightfully so, but this feels more like justice. An actual check and balance.

    I still hope the Saints geaux to straight to the bottom.

  54. dlk47823 says: Sep 7, 2012 7:50 PM

    they’ll be suspended again within 48 hrs. Its just semantics and won’t stand up. Vilma’s done as a player anyway and Hargrove is unsigned. the CEO of any private coporation has the right to fire/suspend any employee for damaging the co in the eyes of the CEO. Its not like they work for Obama, Inc. than it would go on for 4 years or more.

  55. eyeh8goodell says: Sep 7, 2012 8:02 PM

    LOL at all the bitter clowns who jumped on the bandwagon and took Roger’s word for it. I’m not even a Saints fan. Only a complete idiot ever bought Goodell’s line about having 55,000 pages of evidence, especially considering his history of dishonesty. All this time and we never saw one shred of conclusive proof to back his statements. But we have plenty of tape of hard but clean hits in the games in question, and not one injury that resulted. I hope this doesn’t close the book on Vilma’s defamation suit. I want Goodell nailed to the wall on that as well. If the suspensions are unlawful, then it goes without saying that Goodell’s public comments are unfounded and fit the definition of defamation.

    So, how would you people like your crow served? This is me pointing and laughing at you people. Hell, my freshmen football coach in High School said things to us that would make Greg Williams pucker. Happens in almost every locker room from the high school level on up. And if you don’t think so, then you never played. And if you never played……your opinion is worthless.

  56. charger383 says: Sep 7, 2012 8:39 PM

    Goodell broke the rules. Just like players who get fined after the game, he should get a great big fine.

  57. musicman495 says: Sep 7, 2012 9:10 PM

    dlk47823 says: Sep 7, 2012 7:50 PM

    the CEO of any private coporation has the right to fire/suspend any employee for damaging the co in the eyes of the CEO. Its not like they work for Obama, Inc. than it would go on for 4 years or more.
    ——————————-
    Because in America, a CEO can do whatever he wants, and does not have to abide by any contracts, labor agreements, or the U.S. Constitution, right?

  58. musicman495 says: Sep 7, 2012 9:13 PM

    freshwatergamefish says: Sep 7, 2012 4:13 PM

    I have no sympathy for those guys after watching the Kurt Warner hit.
    —————————-
    Such is the vacuous case against the Saints. That Warner hit, by any measure whatsoever, and by Warner’s own statement, was totally legal.

  59. maxpowr says: Sep 7, 2012 9:36 PM

    goodell want’s an explanation..

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