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Appeals Denied in NFL Bounty Suspensions

Four players waited with baited breath for Roger Goodell’s decision on their NFL bounty suspension appeals on Tuesday. And when it finally came, they let out a sigh of disgust rather than one of relief. While Goodell ultimately decided not to grant appeals to any of the four players, he has invited them to come to him privately to plead their case; and that he’s willing to listen and reduce suspensions should any new evidence come into play. Instead, many of the players are now taking action in court.

Jonathan Vilma, who was suspended for the whole of the 2012 season, has already filed two lawsuits with the New Orleans federal court system — one against Goodell himself for defamation; and one against the league, asking for a temporary injunction so that Vilma could play while the other legal matters were settled. The NFLPA, of which Fujita is a member of, has also said that it “will continue to pursue all options,” indicating that more legal recourse may be on its way.

Those “options” apparently don’t include meeting with Goodell, or anyone else having to do with the actual bounty programs and punishments, as they’ve refused to meet with Goodell. Citing reasons that the fact that Goodell spoke about the cases publicly goes against the spirit of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the NFLPA has also said that Goodell has proven that he cannot be a considered an objective arbitrator.

However, Goodell says that it’s the lack of communication on the part of the players that has really hurt their case. When handing down his ruling on Tuesday he stated, “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. 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 collective bargaining agreement.”

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