Special Master Stephen Burbank rejected the NFLPA's grievance against the NFL on Monday and reaffirmed Commissioner Roger Goodell's authority to suspend four New Orleans Saints players, according to the league.
Goodell has suspended Saints defenders Jonathan Vilma (one season) and Will Smith (four games), along with current Green Bay Packers defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove (eight games) andCleveland Browns linebacker Scott Fujita (three games) for their roles in the scheme, which was implemented from 2009 to 2011. Fujita and Hargrove were members of the Saints during that time span.
"System Arbitrator Stephen Burbank upheld the commissioner’s authority under the Collective Bargaining Agreement to impose “conduct detrimental” discipline on players who provided or offered to provide financial incentives to injure opponents," league spokesman Greg Aiello said in a statement to NFL.com. "He also upheld the commissioner’s authority to impose such discipline against players who obstructed a league investigation.
The System Arbitrator thus confirmed the commissioner's authority to suspend Mr. Fujita, Mr. Smith and Mr. Vilma. He invited the commissioner to clarify the precise basis for his discipline of Mr. Hargrove who, among other things, was found to have lied to the league’s investigators and obstructed their investigation."
The four players suspended in the bounty case are Jonathan Vilma, Will Smith, Scott Fujita and Anthony Hargrove. Separate from this is a grievance filed before arbitrator Shyam Das that questions whether the NFL can suspend players for actions that took place before the new CBA was signed. Saints Bounty Scandal: Arbitrator Rules In Favor of NFL - SB Nation Atlanta.