For NFL players, Tuesday provides a day of rest. For NFL players who are summoned to see the Principal on Park Avenue, Tuesday is the best in-season day of the week to have the meeting.
And so Saints defensive end Will Smith and free-agent defensive end Anthony Hargrove met with Commissioner Roger Goodell this past Tuesday, as part of the bounty case do-over. (Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma, who’s on the Physically Unable to Perform list with a lingering knee injury, made the trip on Monday for a private meeting with Goodell.)
Browns linebacker Scott Fujita didn’t make the trip, due to a lingering knee injury of his own. And since the league opted not to proceed via video conference, the meeting was postponed.
But since the Browns play on Thursday, September 27, the next Tuesday on the calendar won’t work, either, because Fujita will be practicing.
Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that Fujita is likely to meet with Goodell the day after the game, on Friday, September 28.
This assumes, of course, that Fujita will be able to make the trip. Plenty of older players can’t get out of bed the day after a game; with the Browns playing Thursday night, it’s hard to imagine Fujita making an early Friday trip to Manhattan.
The delay creates a bottleneck for the entire process. After the suspensions are reissued (and they likely will be), the players will be entitled to an internal appeal hearing. Given that the league’s reliance on sworn statements from former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams and former Saints assistant coach Mike Cerullo, the league will have no choice but to produce them for testimony and, more importantly, cross examination.
And the NFL won’t want to make them available more than once. So no internal hearings will occur until Fujita has met with the Goodell, received a suspension, and filed an appeal.