Saints Players Set to Appeal Bounty Sanctions Today

Posted on May 16, 2012 in National Issues, Personal Injury, Sports

The Saints' Jonathan Vilma tackles a Kansas City Chiefs' player

Saints players are expected to appeal NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s suspensions in New York today, arguing that a year’s loss of salary is an unjust punishment.

Star linebacker Jonathan Vilma and defensive end Will Smith, along with former teammates Scott Fujita and Anthony Hargrove, will argue the bounty system the league accused New Orleans of using from 2009 to 2011 is a matter of money; that is, the payments were a violation of the collective bargaining agreement, and thus disciplinary action should fall under an arbitrator’s bailiwick, not Goodell’s.

Presumably, that would mean much less draconian discipline than that meted out by Goodell, who suspended Vilma for a season, Hargrove for eight games, and Smith and Fujita for four games. Many believe that Goodell hit the Saints organization so hard because of the growing mountain of lawsuits against the NFL from former players claiming that the league did little to protect them from life-threatening injuries over their careers. Observers say the punitive actions are a defense mechanism for the NFL in any future trials.

The hearing will be mediated by arbitrator Shyam Das, who made headlines this week when he was sacked from a similar role with Major League Baseball after he ruled in favor of Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun in an appeal of a positive drug test, a possible indication the appeal will go well for the Saints.

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