If suspensions are lifted, Will Smith will play

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Four players are patiently (or otherwise) waiting for Judge Helen G. Berrigan to rule on the question of whether they will be able to play on Sunday.  Because, however, she has waited until Friday to make her ruling, the bigger question becomes whether they will be able to go without the benefit of participating in practice all week.

Of the four suspended players who may be unsuspended by the close of business on Friday, one of them definitely will play.  Per a source with knowledge of the situation, Saints defensive end Will Smith will suit up and participate in the Week One game against the Redskins, if he gets legal clearance from Judge Berrigan — and if the league is unable to get the ruling overturned by Sunday.

As to the other players, their status is up in the air.  Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma has been battling knee problems, and Mike Triplett of the New Orleans Times-Picayune suggested during Thursday’s PFT Live that Vilma would land immediately on the Physically Unable to Perform list.  One source who is familiar with Vilma’s current mindset believes that he will do whatever it takes to play, even if he’s only in for a couple of snaps.

As to Browns linebacker Scott Fujita, it’s unknown whether he would be available to play against the Eagles; the fact that some teams believe that a player must practice at least once in order to play could be much more of a factor for the Browns than it would be for the Saints, who would love nothing more than to trot out Smith and Vilma for the first post-bounty game in the Superdome.  For free-agent defensive end Anthony Hargrove, the issue is moot because he has no team.

Of course, the other side of this coin is that, if/when Smith, Vilma, and Fujita are able to play, they will displace a player who currently has a job.  While the league routinely grants roster exemptions in situations like this, putting a player on the active roster wipes out the exemption.

So, basically, there are a couple of Saints players hovering near the bottom of the roster who likely are hoping that Smith and Vilma aren’t permitted to play on Sunday.  They, and the rest of us, will know more by the end of the day.

And even if Judge Berrigan doesn’t issue a ruling today, she will have necessarily issued a ruling.  A failure to grant the motion to lift the suspensions pending a final outcome of the case (or to overturn the suspensions completely) will as far as Sunday is concerned operate as a denial of the players’ effort to get back on the field.

22 responses to “If suspensions are lifted, Will Smith will play

  1. I think because she has waited so long after saying she wants to grant relief, that she cannot find a “legal way” to grant the relief.
    I am sure the NFL has already pulled some strings to have the appeal board ready to block an injunction.

  2. Will Smith will play if the suspension is lifted and he will play at a very high level in Spags new defense. This defense is more favorable to his style of play. Vilma will land on the PUP list, he is simply not ready to physically play right now, but he could still be on the sideline and could come out onto the field with the rest of the players. Vilma also has had no practice time in the new defense, while Will Smith has been in camp and has played in the pre-season.

    If suspensions are lifted:
    100% chance Will Smith plays in the game.
    0% chance Vilma plays in the game.

  3. While I personally would love to see the suspensions lifted…..please name one thing about this process that has not been a complete screwup! Not sure I can be optimistic about this!

  4. I really hope the judge rules in favor of the league because if she doesn’t, what she’s then saying is that the agreement between teh NFL & NFLPA means nothing.

  5. mvp43- WRONG. It would mean the NFL must abide by the CBA, which contains due process, which the players were denied.

  6. These players got caught doing someting wrong, the process since has been a joke. Now a judge is going to weigh in on this, football is losing it. If I am one player that has been suspended by Godel and this judge blocks the suspensions, I’m getting a lawyer and filing to have my pay repaid.

  7. Goodell was very successful at manipulating public outrage with his original accusations, based on some people still repeating his words as fact. Things like “Why don’t they just take their punishment. We know they’re guilty.” No, we don’t know they’re guilty, because valid proof has still not been presented. The real truth needs to come out, even if it takes a court trial. Until the verdict, they should be allowed to play.

  8. mvp43 – I agree with russ51, you’re wrong. But you’re wrong for more than just the reason above. You’re also wrong because not only must the NFL abide by the CBA, but even if the punishment is acceptable within the CBA (which it’s not), it must still conform to federal employment laws, which it does not. Federal Law trumps the CBA 100% of the time. In no situation is an employer allowed to arbitrarily level an excessive punishment on an employee without due process and the players were never afforded due process. Yes, they were offered a ‘hearing’, but the evidence, witnesses nor accusers were never made available for them to address. Game, set, match. Suit up fellas, you’re going in.

  9. Just do the right thing and lift the suspensions as these players were disciplined for something (pay-for-PERFORMANCE) that’s been going on in the NFL for decades!!!!!!

  10. cash804 says:
    Sep 7, 2012 12:19 PM
    Suspensions won’t be lifted…enjoy the game from the sideline ladies.
    Doesn’t really matter to Saints fans, we know the Saints are going to win their usual 11-13 games either way!!! Who Dat!!!!!!!!!

  11. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen so many legal opinions rendered by so many people that know so little about the law.

  12. Would this mean that Sean Payton and Gregg Williams can appeal their suspensions as well? Either they’re all innocent or they’re all guilty. What a farce.

  13. “I am sure the NFL has already pulled some strings to have the appeal board ready to block an injunction.”

    LOL it’s not an appeal “board” it goes to a court of appeals and another judge who would have to overturn the current one’s ruling.

    Who that judge would be is not yet known, and the NFL cannot file any sort of motion until the court and judge is designated.

    There are no “strings’ to be pulled by anyone at the moment and once the appeals judge/court is designated there is no way to approach them outside of the normal court process that wouldn’t be highly visible and put their own job at risk and those appeals court judges are well paid and have cushy gigs.

    As much as you’d like to blame a corrupted process if you don’t like whatever ruling eventually comes about, those judges aren’t going to allow themselves to be manipulated by one side or the other like you imagine they would.

  14. “sb44champs says:
    Sep 7, 2012 1:20 PM
    Just do the right thing and lift the suspensions as these players were disciplined for something (pay-for-PERFORMANCE) that’s been going on in the NFL for decades!!!!!!”

    Funny sideline taping of other team’s defensive signals went on for decades but I don’t see you or anyone else giving the Pats a bye based on that.

    Sorry, thanks for playing though.

  15. I don’t think there will be a ruling today. I think the subject is too complicated. The judge wants to rule for the players and she still can’t find a way to. That’s why she keeps making them submit more documents. Each time has been an attempt to trip up the NFL. Each time the NFL has shown the documents that back up their assertions. So the judge is still in the same spot when we last heard from here. I want to rule for the players but the law says I can’t. Then do your job and submit a ruling that is in accordance with the laws, and stop wasting tax payer money to try and find a way around the law.

  16. florio has gotten so pathetic with his irrarional biased stories, stuck to the top of his blog about the speculation of a legal vivtory coming ANY MINUTE for the NFLPA and players. Each day the same story that any minute the decision will come down in the players side. Talk about SUCKING UP to get the players to talk to him.Realy pathetic. How about some factual information to back up one of these stories for once, in stead of pure speculation in an attempt to drive hit on your blog. Its realy getting to be a JOKE….If you say it every day till the judgement comes down will you say I told you so …Pathetic…

  17. The NFL filed documents saying that vilma agreed to meet with goodell, but the NFLPA talked him out of it. Now THAT puts a big damper on the whole “appeals process is unfair” bit.

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