As expected, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s idea of a compromise has not satisfied the four players who were suspended in the league’s investigation of the Saints’ bounty program.
Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma, Saints defensie end Will Smith, Browns linebacker Scott Fujita and free agent defensive end Anthony Hargrove have filed appeals of the new punishments that Goodell announced this week. Filing appeals is the players’ right within the Collective Bargaining Agreement, and this is no surprise.
One interesting aspect of the appeal, noted by Albert Breer of NFL Network, is that Vilma has asked Goodell to recuse himself. Vilma has sued Goodell for defamation and has made no secret of his personal animosity for Goodell, and now Vilma apparently feels that Goodell has lost the ability to deal with him fairly.
When Goodell announced that he would allow Vilma to collect six weeks’ pay while still sitting out the season, that Fujita’s suspension would be cut from three games to one and that Hargrove would only have to serve two games of his suspension when and if he signs with another team, it was presented by the NFL as Goodell’s effort to find some middle ground. But it’s always been clear that the players don’t think they deserve to be suspended at all, and will continue to fight. This fight won’t end any time soon.