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Friday, March 30, 2012
Player discipline could take time

By Pat Yasinskas

For those of you waiting for news on possible suspensions of players for roles in the New Orleans Saints’ bounty program, I’d say don’t get your hopes up that we’ll hear official word anytime soon.

It sounds like we’re getting into a little war of words between the NFL Players Association and the NFL office and that could delay things. Kind of reminds me of last year's labor negotiations.

Check out this news story I spent much of this afternoon working on. In it, you’ll see quotes from NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith, saying he wants access to all the information the NFL found in its investigation before discussing possible punishments with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

"It's very hard to have a productive discussion about punishment when one side has kept, to itself, all the information," Smith said. "What I would expect is to have a conversation soon and certainly it would be our expectation that the request for all information, as it relates to particular players, will be provided before any discipline takes place."

A league official said confidential reports with extensive details were provided to the NFLPA on two different occasions. The official also said Goodell has invited Smith and other union leaders to come to his office and discuss the evidence. The league also has told the NFLPA that it is free to talk to players as it conducts its own investigation.

Smith said he believes he should have strong say in the punishments.

"Obviously, the first word that popped out to me was the word 'determine,' '' Smith said of a phrase Goodell used about potential suspensions. "I'd much rather that be the word 'discuss.' As of yet, they haven't turned over anything that we would consider to be direct evidence of player involvement in a 'pay-to-injure' scheme that we could consider for discipline."

The league official said Goodell is more than willing to listen to “recommendations’’ from Smith, but emphasized that any final decision on player discipline is up to the commissioner.

Stay tuned on this one.