There’s a joke about the guy who arrives in Hell and on his first day he’s told, “Don’t worry, it’ll only feel like an eternity.”
That same punch line applies to the bounty suspensions.
More than eight months after the situation first came to light, the procedure for determining whether and to what extent a quartet of players will be suspended won’t end during the 2012 season, according to Chris Mortensen of ESPN.
Per Mortensen, the November 20 hearing before former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue will be only the first of multiple sessions, which means that Tagliabue will be using a more detailed, judicial process that Commissioner Roger Goodell would have employed.
This also means that Tagliabue could require a real “discovery” process, allowing both sides to get access to information that, under Goodell, may have remained under wraps. Likewise, Tagliabue is likely to require the league to produce former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams and former Saints assistant Mike Cerullo for testimony regarding their sworn statements that incriminate the players.
This may not be a positive development for some of the players. Saints defensive end Will Smith’s salary skyrockets from $825,000 in 2012 to $9 million in 2013, which means the price tag for his four-game suspension would shoot from $194,117 to $2.117 million.
Then there’s the real possibility that Smith’s cap number will get him whacked during the offseason, and that a looming four-game suspension could keep him from getting another job.
Ditto for free-agent defensive end Anthony Hargrove, who has gotten no sniffs with his suspension pending. It will apparently still be pending, for a while.
For Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma and Browns linebacker Scott Fujita, the development could allow them to retire after the season — and to never serve the suspensions at all.
Regardless, we won’t have an answer any time soon. Which may be the worst news of all, for everyone.