The New Orleans Saints bounty scandal will not go away anytime soon. Now comes word that Jonathan Vilma, Scott Fujita, Anthony Hargrove and Will Smith have filed an appeal to have NFL commissioner Roger Goodell recused himself from the case.
The players site in their quest that Goodell, as judge and jury, is biased and partial.
Vilma, suspended for the entire season, no doubt hopes U.S. District Court Judge Ginger Berrigan makes a favorable
ruling in his defamation suit in federal court that would supersede NFL rulings.
All four players are now eligible to play or at least get paid until the NFL rules on their latest appeals. The expectation is that the new appeals hearing likely will take place a week from Tuesday, according to a source.
The deadline for appealing was the end of business Friday.
Earlier this week, Goodell upheld the suspensions of Vilma and Smith (four games). However, Fujita’s three-game suspension was reduced to one while Hargrove’s eight-game penalty was trimmed to seven games.
The players had been suspended as a result of a bounty pool that league investigators have said the Saints ran from 2009-11, but the bans had been vacated on technical, jurisdictional grounds by an appeals panel operating within the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement. That decision led to the re-instatement of the four players and forced Goodell to begin the disciplinary process for the players over again.
This week, Fujita fired off on Goodell after the commissioner reduced his suspension from three games to one. “I am now purportedly being suspended for failing to confront my former defensive coordinator for his inappropriate use of language. This seems like an extremely desperate attempt to punish me. I also think it sets a dangerous precedent when players can be disciplined for not challenging the behavior of their superiors. This is an absolute abuse of the power that’s been afforded to the Commissioner.”