The first reaction by many after news broke of the ruling of the panel that overturned the bounty suspensions imposed on the players was this: “What if the NFL refuses to let the players the play?”
That question has been answered. The NFL will reinstate the players, immediately.
“Consistent with the panel’s decision, Commissioner Goodell will, as directed, make an expedited determination of the discipline imposed for violating the league’s pay-for-performance/bounty rule,” NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said. “Until that determination is made, the four players are reinstated and eligible to play starting this weekend.”
The appeals panel overturned the suspensions earlier today, explaining that it’s not clear whether Commissioner Roger Goodell’s decision infringes on the exclusive jurisdiction of the “System Arbitrator” over salary-cap violations. The cases (as to the players) now go back to Goodell, requiring him to basically start the process from scratch.
In the end, the same decision may be made. Until then, this one will be perceived as a major victory for the Saints and the players suspended by Goodell.