Fujita, Hargrove and Smith file 'reservation of rights' with league / Vilma Appeals
Fujita, Hargrove and Smith file 'reservation of rights' with league - NFL.com
While New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma filed a letter stating his intent to appeal his season-long suspension Monday, three other players suspended in the Saints "bounty" scandal jointly filed, through the NFL Players Association, a “reservation of rights” letter to the NFL.
Scott Fujita, Anthony Hargrove and Will Smith filed notice that they reserve the right to appeal their suspensions after a grievance filed by the NFLPA on their behalf is heard. The NFLPA is challenging commissioner Roger Goodell’s authority regarding the suspensions. The NFLPA states that no appeal should be heard until an arbitrator or arbitrators rule on two grievances that were filed last week are resolved. Vilma’s lawyer, Peter Ginsberg, also said that protocol also applies to Vilma.
"I look forward to the opportunity to confront what evidence they claim to have in the appropriate forum," Fujita said in a statement emailed to The Associated Press. "I have never contributed money to any so-called 'bounty' pool, and any statements to the contrary are false. To say I'm disappointed with the league would be a huge understatement."
Players had until the end of business Monday to notify the NFL of their intent to appeal their suspensions. Fujita, a linebacker now with the Cleveland Browns, was suspended three games; Smith, a defensive end with the Saints, four games, and Hargrove now a defensive lineman now with Green Bay Packers, eight games. Vilma’s suspension was to take effect immediately, but he is allowed to participate in offseason workouts during his appeals process.
The NFL has not set a timetable as to when Vilma’s appeal will be heard. NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said the league is reviewing the players’ filings from Monday along with the grievance filings and will determine the next steps in the process.
The NFL meted out punishment against the players for participating in what it said was a pay-for-performance program in which players were paid out of a cash pool they funded to injure opponents from 2009 to 2011. The league says it has a preponderance of evidence to support its discipline. The players and the NFLPA said they’ve yet to see any evidence linking players to the program.
Saints head coach Sean Payton has been suspended for the season, assistant head coach Joe Vitt for six games, general manger Mickey Loomis for eight games and former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams was suspended indefinitely for their roles in the program. All except Williams appealed their suspensions, which were denied by Goodell. Saints also were docked two second-round draft picks and fined $500,000, the maximum allowed by league rules.
The NFLPA, in its grievance, argues that Goodell does not have the authority to judge, rule and hear appeals against the players. The NFLPA states that based on negotiations for the collective bargaining agreement signed in 2011, that no players would be punished for actions prior to last season. The league disagrees, arguing that such an agreement was not made and that Goodell, according to the labor pact, has authority to rule and hear the appeals for “conduct detrimental.” The bounty rulings fall under the “conduct detrimental” element of the labor agreemnt, according to the NFL.
Saints' Jonathan Vilma appeals season-long suspension
Saints' Jonathan Vilma appeals season-long suspension - NFL.com
New Orleans Saints' linebacker Jonathan Vilma has appealed his season-long suspension by the NFL for his role in the team's "bounty" scandal, league spokesman Greg Aiello confirmed to NFL Network and NFL.com on Monday.
Other players suspended by the league -- Anthony Hargrove, Will Smith and Scott Fujita -- filed a notice on Monday that they reserve the right to appeal after a grievance filed by the NFL Players Association on their behalf challenging commissioner Roger Goodell’s authority regarding these suspensions is heard, accoring to NFL.com's Steve Wyche. .
Vilma will be allowed to participate in all team activities during the appeals process, the league confirmed to Wyche.
Hargrove, a defensive end currently playing for the Green Bay Packers was suspended without pay for the first eight games of the season. Fujita, a linebacker now on the Cleveland Browns' roster, was suspended without pay for three games. Smith, a defensive end for the Saints, was suspended for four games without pay.
By filing an appeal to his suspension in the bounty program, Vilma is allowed to participate in offseason activities with the team, Vilma's attorney, Peter Ginsberg, told Wyche. Vilma actually is at the team facility rehabilitating a knee injury and going through workouts, according to Ginsberg.
Vilma's appeal will go directly to Goodell, who handed down the suspensions, per the labor agreement.
A league spokesman told Wyche that no timetable has been set for when Goodell will hear Vilma's appeal. Goodell expedited the appellate hearings for Saints general manager Mickey Loomis, head coach Sean Payton and assistant head coach Joe Vitt.
Fujita, who played for the Saints from 2006 to 2009, accused the league of keeping him in the dark about allegations leveled against him.
"I disagree wholeheartedly with the discipline imposed," Fujita said in a statement emailed to The Associated Press. "I've yet to hear the specifics of any allegation against me, nor have I seen any evidence that supports what the NFL alleges.
"I look forward to the opportunity to confront what evidence they claim to have in the appropriate forum," added Fujita, a member of the NFLPA's executive committee. "I have never contributed money to any so-called 'bounty' pool, and any statements to the contrary are false. To say I'm disappointed with the league would be a huge understatement."
The league suspended the players for conduct detrimental to the NFL in connection to a "bounty" program run by the Saints' former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. The "pay-for-play" scheme financially rewarded players for intentionally injuring opponents.
Williams, who was hired to be the defensive coordinator of the St. Louis Rams in the offseason, has been suspended indefinitely by the league and did not appeal his suspension. Payton received a season-long ban, Loomis was suspended eight games and Vitt was suspended six. The team was fined $500,000 by the league, the maximum allowed.
The NFL Players Association filed a grievance on behalf of the suspended players last week, alleging that the league violated the collective bargaining agreement in the way that the investigation and suspensions were handled.
Fight the MAN!
I'm with Zoey!
But she's with us. Zooey doesn't like injustice. :bng:
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