Sunday, September 9, 2012
DeMaurice Smith happy with ruling
ESPN.com news services
NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith sent a letter to players Sunday morning, exalting the recent decision to overturn suspensions handed down to New Orleans Saints involved in the bounty scandal.
Smith credited the strength of the collective bargaining agreement, signed in 2011, for the ruling.
"Our CBA provides careful checks and balances to ensure that player rights are protected and no one person can make impartial, biased and unfair decisions," Smith said in the letter. "The panel's ruling exposed the league's unfair process and false accusations."
Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma, defensive end Will Smith, former linebacker Scott Fujita and former defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove were suspended for their roles in the alleged bounty program.
A three-judge appeals panel ruled Friday that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell needs to clarify whether he punished the players for conduct, which is within his rights as commissioner, or because of payments for performance, which is a salary-cap issue over which he does not have jurisdiction.
Smith's message to players was that the fight may not be finished, and the NFL still may pursue punishments.
"Despite the facts we now know about the failure by the League to abide by our CBA, they may decide to revisit these player suspensions," Smith said in the letter. "If they do, we will demand the same things we have fought for during these many months: a fair process, the ability to critically review all information and a neutral and unbiased arbitrator."
An NFL spokesman said Friday that Goodell would "make an expedited determination" about the discipline imposed.
Former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams remains suspended indefinitely for his role in the bounty program. Saints coach Sean Payton is suspended for the season, general manager Mickey Loomis is serving an eight-game suspension and interim coach Joe Vitt a six-game ban.