NFL, NFLPA lawyers file motions
Attorneys for the NFL and the NFL Players Association filed motions Friday as they continue to battle in federal court over the suspensions of four current and former New Orleans Saints players for what the NFL says were illegal bounties against opposing players.
The filings were reported in the New Orleans Time-Picayune.
The motions, before U.S. District Judge Ginger Berrigan, were made as the sides prepare for an Aug. 10 hearing. The NFL will ask the judge to dismiss claims by the NFLPA and Jonathan Vilma to set aside the suspensions. Vilma, who also filed a defamation claim against NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, was supsended for the season for what the NFL said was playing a lead role in the pay-for-performance bounty system. Three other players -- Will Smith, Anthony Hargrove and Scott Fujita, were also suspended.
The NFL reiterated its claims that Goodell had the right to suspend the players under the league's collective bargaining agreement.
The NFLPA claimed the league's argument that players had "failed to particpate in any meaningful way" in appealing Goodell's initial decision were "baseless as a matter of both fact and law." It also asked the judge to vacate the suspensions and appoint a neutral arbitrator.
The NFL countered that the judge could only overturn the appeals and send them back to Goodell, since the CBA says he should hear all appeals.
"The CBA vests the Commissioner with exclusive authority to decide conduct detrimental proceedings because of his knowledge of and responsibility to the industry, particularly factors that affect the integrity of or public confidence in the sport," the NFL attorneys said in the brief. "The parties bargained for his experience and personal judgment."