The NFL issued a statement Thursday morning about last week’s ruling by an appeals panel that lifted the suspensions of four players involved in the Saints’ bounty program.
“In light of some confusion surrounding the ruling of the CBA Appeals Panel, it is important to understand what the panel did and did not rule. The panel did not overturn the suspensions and did not say Commissioner Goodell overstepped his authority,” the statement said.
“The panel’s decision asks no more than that the commissioner clarify his earlier rulings to ensure — and to clearly state — that no part of the prior ruling was attributable to matters within Professor Burbank’s authority (salary cap violations). It does not require the commissioner to take additional evidence or to “reweigh” the evidence currently in the record. The panel did not take issue with any findings that were made in the course of the investigation, did not exonerate anyone involved, and did not say that the commissioner “overstepped his authority.”
“The panel made clear that the commissioner had full authority to impose discipline on the players so long as the discipline was attributable to conduct detrimental to the league, rather than “undisclosed compensation.” The panel asked only that he clarify that he was not relying on the “undisclosed” nature of the financial incentives in imposing the discipline. In the meantime, the panel put the suspensions on hold.”
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and the four players — Saints LB Jonathan Vilma, Saints DE Will Smith, Browns LB Scott Fujita and free-agent DL Anthony Hargrove — are expected to meet on the matter, although no date has been set.
Goodell apparently is considering whether he should revise the discipline he handed down in the case.