Suspended Players Meet With NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell Over Bounty Suspensions
Four current and former Saints players who are suspended for their roles in the club's bounty program appeared before NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for an appeals meeting Monday morning. But they weren't happy with how it went.
Linebacker Jonathan Vilma left the meeting after about an hour. "Roger Goodell has taken three months to tear down what I built over eight years," Vilma said. "It's tough to swallow. I have been linked to a bounty, and it simply is not true."
I don't know how I can get a fair process when he is the judge, jury and executioner. You're assuming it will be fair, but it's not.
His attorney, Peter Ginsberg, calls the process "a sham." Ginsburg told the NFL Network his client cannot get a fair hearing with Goodell.
What the commissioner evidenced today is that even with regard to the few rules, fundamental rules that should govern these proceedings, he cannot abide by them.
Vilma and his lawyer showed up to the meeting separately from the rest of the players, linebacker Scott Fujita and defensive linemen Anthony Hargrove and Will Smith. They are upset with the NFL for not showing more evidence from the league's investigation and that Goodell is handling the appeals process after he handed down the punishments.
The hearing is supposed to resume Monday afternoon, but it's reported the players may not return--feeling the process is pointless since Goodell is being asked to reconsider his own ruling.
Vilma received the toughest punishment, getting suspended without pay for the entire 2012 NFL season. Smith is facing a 4-game suspension. Hargove, who's now with the Green Bay Packers, was suspended for eight games while Fujita, who's now with the Cleveland Browns, was suspended for three games.