With meetings set next week for the four players suspended by Roger Goodell in the bounty scandal, the NFL today sent out a statement clarifying the panel's decision with respect to the commissioner's authority.
Here is the statement sent out by the NFL today:
In light of some confusion surrounding the ruling of the CBA Appeals Panel, it is important to understand what the panel did and did not rule. The panel did not overturn the suspensions and did not say Commissioner Goodell overstepped his authority.
The panel's decision asks no more than that the commissioner clarify his earlier rulings to ensure -- and to clearly state -- that no part of the prior ruling was attributable to matters within Professor Burbank's authority (salary cap violations). It does not require the commissioner to take additional evidence or to "reweigh" the evidence currently in the record. The panel did not take issue with any findings that were made in the course of the investigation, did not exonerate anyone involved, and did not say that the commissioner "overstepped his authority."
The panel made clear that the commissioner had full authority to impose discipline on the players so long as the discipline was attributable to conduct detrimental to the league, rather than "undisclosed compensation." The panel asked only that he clarify that he was not relying on the "undisclosed" nature of the financial incentives in imposing the discipline. In the meantime, the panel put the suspensions on hold.
Soon after the release of the NFL's statement, Jonathan Vilma's attorney, Peter Ginsberg released his own statement:
"It is interesting and illuminating that it took the NFL almost one week to develop a publishable rationalization of the Appeals Board decision." Contrary to the NFL's media statement, the Appeals Panel voided the suspensions -- it did not 'put the suspensions on hold,' as the NFL now pretends. And the Appeals Board is clearly based on the conclusion that the Commissioner overstepped his jurisdiction."
The commissioner is set to meet with Vilma on Monday, while he will meet with Will Smith, Scott Fujita and Anthony Hargrove on Tuesday. Goodell could re-issue the original suspensions to the players, but many hope there will be a compromise.
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