Nobody asked me, but ...
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has left the door open to reduce the suspensions of the bountygate players if more evidence is discovered or the players come forward, but that's not likely to happen.
While Goodell could possibly reduce the punishment, it's all or nothing for the players. They want to be cleared of all wrongdoing because they believe their names and reputations have been tainted.
The NFL will not completely exonerate the players unless they present compelling evidence they should be. This will be played out in court.
Two arbitrators already have thwarted NFL Players Association grievances challenging Goodell's jurisdiction and authority -- nothing the players argue should ever see a courtroom.
The players' lawyers believe they're in good standing to stiff-arm that argument because they believe the commissioner failed to follow protocol and that the league made missteps that opened the door for challenges.
The real issue for us is if the players will ever get to play while this soap opera continues to unfold. Jonathan Vilma's replacement, Curtis Lofton, already is listed as the starting middle linebacker (he's five years younger and made 100 more tackles last season than Vilma) relatively quickly, his future with the Saints will be in doubt. Scott Fujita, Will Smith and Anthony Hargrove also are well into their careers and could be replaced by their current teams sooner than later. That's why the four are fighting so hard.
Whether the bounty program should be called a bounty program or a play for performance program is a point of contention. The players say the league unfairly and publicly accused them of being head-hunters. The league argues that it was simply presenting the facts surrounding the program that promised rewards for players carted off the field.
The evidence shows there was some sort of program in which players pledged money to reward teammates for big plays and so-called "cart-offs." It doesn't, however, clearly show intent to injure. Technically, that doesn't matter much to the league.
The bickering and legalities won't end anytime soon.
News and Notes
SOME hither, others yon:
Speculation has been that Van Halen will be the halftime act for Super Bowl XLVII. But the NFL hasn't yet made an announcement, so as of right now it's nothing more than that. The band toured this year with lead singer David Lee Roth reunited with the group. DLR addressed the rumors with a statement to Van Halen News Desk, and here is the letter via Brad Biggs of nationalfootballpost.com:
"I'm compelled to address the now-rampant rumors that Van Halen is playing the Superbowl. First of all let me say this -- be still my pigskin heart. That honor has not been bestowed upon us at this time though it is one we would accept in a NY minute.
"Having heard VH blaring though stadium speakers on any given Sunday -- more like every given Sunday, the idea of playing there live would be like -- 'okay, now we're in the game'. Van Halen's collective memories are -- and with all due respect to each and every one of those memories, teeming with been-there’s and done-that's, but one including playing at the Superbowl. Playing the Superbowl is a veritable holy grail of musical recognition, am highly prized rite of passage for game-changing artists. Not a spiritual rite with snake pits or Hebrew school or anything, but it's up there.
'We are not on Commissioner Goodell's dance card at this time, but we would be most honored to dance the halftime away in New Orleans.
"It's an honor to be considered and for that we would like to thank the rumormongers all over the World Wide Web.