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Suspensions Upheld In Saints' Bounty Scandal

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On a day that's got everybody on WCG apparently really fired up over being saturated with news about a franchised player that hasn't yet reached a long-term deal, let's turn our attention to another one of the big NFL stories since Bears news and other happenings are on a bit of a slowdown this week. And think about it this way - training camp will be starting later this month, giving us actual Bears stuff to talk about.

Jonathan Vilma, Anthony Hargrove, Will Smith and Scott Fujita all had their suspensions upheld by Roger Goodell on Tuesday, with Goodell saying in his letter...

"Throughout this entire process, including your appeals, and despite repeated invitations and encouragement to do so, none of you has offered any evidence that would warrant reconsideration of your suspensions. Instead, you elected not to participate meaningfully in the appeal process ..."

Needless to say, Vilma has not exactly been the most thrilled person after this, filing a defamation suit against Goodell as well as informing a federal judge he planned to file an injunction.

Vilma and his attorney, Peter Ginsberg, left the June 18 appeal hearing with Goodell and the other suspended players, calling the session a "sham." The other three players returned to a meeting with Goodell after a delay of more than three hours.

"Roger Goodell has taken three months to tear down what I built over eight years," Vilma said on June 18. "It's tough to swallow. I have been linked to a bounty, and it simply is not true. I don't know how I can get a fair process when his the judge, jury and executioner. You're assuming it will be fair -- but it's not."

Goodell responded...

"Although you claimed to have been ‘wrongfully accused with insufficient evidence,' your lawyers elected not to ask a single question of the principal investigators, both of whom were present at the hearing (as your lawyers had requested); you elected not to testify or to make any substantive statement, written or oral, in support of your appeal; you elected not to call a single witness to support your appeal; and you elected not to introduce a single exhibit addressing the merits of your appeal. Instead, your lawyers raised a series of jurisdictional and procedural objections that generally ignore the CBA, in particular its provisions governing ‘conduct detrimental' determinations..."

Goodell did also reserve the right to reduce the suspensions should new information come to light.

"While this decision constitutes my final and binding determination under the CBA, I of course retain the inherent authority to reduce a suspension should facts be brought to my attention warranting the exercise of that discretion," Goodell wrote to the players. "The record confirms that each of you was given multiple chances to meet with me to present your side of the story. You are each still welcome to do so."

As far as my thoughts... Goodell is entirely within his rights to reject an appeal as well as to leave the door open for an appeal. I find it kind of awesome that he flat out called out the players as not directly appealing the allegations, instead choosing to attack the process and try to change who hears the final appeal. And it's also interesting to know he is keeping the door open for an actual appeal.

But will one happen in this case? I doubt it. If the players had a case to make (particularly Vilma) beyond defamation suits and challenging authority, they'd have done so by now. But one thing Vilma does have is that in this case, there isn't exactly a sheet of paper to produce that says the players didn't participate in a bounty scandal. So being able to disprove the allegations is probably going to prove difficult.

What are your thoughts on any possibility of an appeal? Should the players just take their suspensions at this point?