NATIONAL NEWS — Scott Fujita, Anthony Hargrove, Will Smith and Jonathan Vilma were notified today that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has upheld the discipline that was imposed for conduct detrimental to the NFL as a result of their roles in the New Orleans Saints' pay-for-performance "bounty" program.
Vilma has been suspended without pay for the entire 2012 season, Hargrove eight games, Smith four games and Fujita for three games.
"Throughout this entire process, including your appeals, and despite repeated invitations and encouragement to do so, none of you has offered any evidence that would warrant reconsideration of your suspensions. Instead, you elected not to participate meaningfully in the appeal process..." Goodell wrote in a letter to the players.
"Although you claimed to have been 'wrongfully accused with insufficient evidence,' your lawyers elected not to ask a single question of the principal investigators, both of whom were present at the hearing (as your lawyers had requested); you elected not to testify or to make any substantive statement, written or oral, in support of your appeal; you elected not to call a single witness to support your appeal; and you elected not to introduce a single exhibit addressing the merits of your appeal. Instead, your lawyers raised a series of jurisdictional and procedural objections that generally ignore the CBA, in particular its provisions governing 'conduct detrimental' determinations..."
The players and NFL Players Association had previously challenged Goodell's authority to hear the player appeals, but their arguments were rejected by two arbitrators.
"While this decision constitutes my final and binding determination under the CBA, I of course retain the inherent authority to reduce a suspension should facts be brought to my attention warranting the exercise of that discretion," Goodell wrote. "The record confirms that each of you was given multiple chances to meet with me to present your side of the story. You are each still welcome to do so."