Commissioner Roger Goodell rejects appeals in bounty case | NFL
Commissioner Roger Goodell has rejected the appeals of four players suspended in connection with the league's bounty investigation of the New Orleans Saints.
NEW ORLEANS — Commissioner Roger Goodell has rejected the appeals of four players suspended in connection with the league's bounty investigation of the New Orleans Saints.
In a ruling Tuesday, Goodell told Jonathan Vilma, Anthony Hargrove, Will Smith and Scott Fujita they are still welcome to meet with him to give their side of the story, and he reserves the right to reduce the suspensions should new information be brought forth.
But the players indicated they intend to fight Goodell's rulings through federal courts.
The players have declined to meet with Goodell because they have argued he lacked the jurisdiction to rule in the matter and has violated the spirit of the league's collective-bargaining agreement by making public statements about the case that demonstrated he could not be neutral.
The players likely would have relinquished those legal arguments had they met with Goodell to defend themselves through the league's disciplinary process.
Vilma (suspended for the 2012 season) and Smith (four games) are with the Saints. Hargrove (eight games) is with Green Bay and Fujita (three games) plays for Cleveland.
• Drew Brees gained additional leverage in his protracted contract talks with the Saints when an arbitrator in Philadelphia ruled in Brees' favor in a dispute over how much New Orleans would have to pay the quarterback if it applied the franchise tag to him again in 2013.
The Saints already have used the tag on Brees for 2012, meaning he can't negotiate with another team and could be forced to settle for a one-year, $16.3 million deal if he cannot reach a new long-term contract by July 16. System arbitrator Stephen Burbank's ruling said if New Orleans tries to tag Brees a second consecutive year, he would be entitled to a 44 percent raise to about $23.5 million because it would be his third career franchise tag.
• Suspended Saints coach Sean Payton and his wife of nearly 20 years, Beth Payton, have filed dueling divorce petitions in Texas.