Did Goodell have authority to punish New Orleans Saints players?
Written by  // Friday, 04 May 2012 10:35 //

saints-pack2The National Football League Player’s Association (NFLPA) has attached the affidavitfrom Hargrove to its own grievance of the Commissioner Goodell’s punishment of the New Orleans Saints players.

Now, the big issue is what does the affidavit admitting the punishment say and how detailed is it?  Also, what were the circumstances surrounding Hargrove’s admissions? 

According to NFL.com, “The grievance filed by the union is that the

suspensions "violated the (league's) duty of fairness to the players". The union states that "the process violated various procedural requirements of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, including limits on Goodell's authority over the matter and failure to disclosure sufficient evidence of the violations".


The union's system arbitration alleges that the authority for punishments for pay-for-performance programs similar to those in the "bounty" case does not rest with Goodell but with the system arbitrator, according to the current collective bargaining agreement.

"(Goodell is) prohibited from punishing NFL players for any aspect of the 'pay-for-performance/bounty' conduct occurring before August 4, 2011," the union said.”

There looks like there‘s still plenty of questions left on the bounty.

The Punishment

The severity for the players involved in the Saints bounty program took many of us by surprise, but it shouldn't have after seeing the harsh penalties given the Saints' non-players.

Gregg Rosenthal, a Tulane grad, has moved over to NFC.com from Pro Football Talk, writes that lost in the furor, the suspensions won't hurt the 2012 Saints that much. Really. Hokie Gajan and Mike Detillier agree. Gajan is color analyst for the Saints' radio broadcast team, and Detillier is an NFL analyst and talent detective.

Coach Sean Payton's suspension was the biggest Saints loss and they lost middle linebacker Jon Vilma for the season and defensive end Will Smith for four games.

If the truth be known, Vilma wasn't a very good player last season Jo-Loon Dunbar, now with the Rams, filled in for Vilma and performed very well.

ProFootballFocus grades every snap for the entire season. They ranked Vilma No. 45 out of a possible 50 inside linebackers. Vilma had to take a pay cut just to keep his roster spot this offseason. That was a sensible move for the Saints who signed three free agent linebackers thinking that Vilma would be suspended.

The Saints were prepared for the suspension. They signed middle linebacker Curtis Lofton from the Falcons for big bucks in free agency. He will replace Vilma and is very good tackler. They signed underrated thumper David Hawthorne from the Seahawks to improve their run defense.

The signed linebacker Chris Chamberlain, who is also a special teams standout and played under new defensive coordinator Steve Spagunolo at St. Louis.

Smith, the Saints' best defensive lineman, is 31 and on the downside of a good career. He's averaged six sacks over the past two seasons. His suspension will hurt the Saints early in the season when a team needs to establish itself as a contender.

The Saints defensive players will miss Vilma's leadership and defensive play-calling. He was the Drew Brees of the defense.

But he missed five games recovering from knee surgery last season. The Saints won all five.

The lines for the opening week of the NFL season are out and the Saints are 10-points favorites over the Redskins.

National Football-Post columnist Joe Fortenbaugh already has an analysis of the Saints-Redskins game in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. His analysis: "Including the preseason, the Saints went 9-0 against the spread at home last year and are an impressive 19-5 at the Voodoo Dome since 2008.

"RG3 faces a daunting challenge in his first professional start. I don't know how much the bounty scandal will hurt the Saints, so I'm taking a pass on picking this game."

Opening week lines (courtesy of the LVH SportsBook in Las Vegas): Giants 3 over Cowboys; Bears 9.5 over Colts; Eagles 7 over Browns;  Jets 6 over Bills; Patriots 6.5 over Titans; Vikings 3.5 over Jaguars; Texans 6 over Dolphins; Lions 9.5 over Rams; Falcons-Chiefs pick; Packers 6.5 over 49ers; Panthers 3 over Buccaneers; Cardinals 2.5 over Seahawks; Broncos 2 over Steelers; Ravens 7 over Bengals; and Chargers-Raiders pick.


Eli to 'let it loose'

Eli Manning dodged "Saturday Night Live" the first time he won the Super Bowl because of his big brother.

Peyton Manning had been on the NBC prime-time show the year before and gotten big reviews. Eli didn't want to follow up so closely on the heels of Peyton.

Now, coming off his second Super Bowl championship and five years after Peyton did the show, Eli will give it a go this Saturday night. Eli said he will "let it loose" in an effort to show more personality and humor than his brother, according to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune.

"I think the good thing about 'Saturday Night Live,' you can kind of come in and maybe express a different side that people don't see," said Eli, according to Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News. "Maybe that's not you at all times, but for this night you can kind of let it loose.

"I think that's one thing I'd say about Peyton and I. We don't mind making fun of ourselves or letting the jokes be at our own expense. It's important to have that attitude going into this week"

Eli has been rehearsing this week and believes he's ready. It's a little bit of pressure, though, especially following his popular brother.

"One of the main g reasons I did not do it was Peyton had done it the previous year.," said Eli. I thought it might be a little fresh in everyone's mind so I didn't want to have to go up against a tough competition and the great job that he performed.

"When I got the invite this year I definitely wanted to try and make it work. I remember saying in 2008, I do want to do the show at one point. I just want to do it maybe after my next championship."

It's Peyton who now trails Eli in championships. We'll see on Saturday night how they stack up in terms of show business.

SOME hither, others yon: Tulane's plan to build an on-campus football stadium ran into a roadblock on Thursday. The New Orleans City Council voted 4-2 in favor of an interim zoning district that would give the city greater control over construction plans for the 30,000-seat stadium. This vote means Tulane is blocked for now for the stadium from filing for construction permits for the stadium. The Saints issued a statement regarding Tulane's proposed stadium:

"The New Orleans Saints wholeheartedly support plans to build a new stadium on the Tulane campus. Our team knows firsthand that strong fan support can make a tremendous difference on the playing field. But most importantly, it builds community spirit and cohesiveness and allows New Orleans and Tulane the unique opportunity to showcase not not only our great city but this great school. And add to that the positive economic impact it can have on our local economy.

"It is hoped that all issues can be resolved to allow the Green Wave to return home where it belongs."

Do you think the punishment is fair?  Talk about it below

by Ed Staton

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Ed Staton

Ed Staton is a former sports writer for the Times Picayune and New Orleans States Item.  He also served as the New Orleans Saints Information Director.  He has won 43 media awards in writing, design and photography.  


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