NFL hands evidence to suspended players on bounty cases
As per rules of the CBA, the NFL was required to present Green Bay Packers defensive end Anthony Hargrove, Cleveland Browns linebacker Scott Fujita, New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma and defensive end Will Smith, with evidence on Friday, three days before the appeal hearing son their cases by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
"We have followed the procedures set forth in the CBA on appeals of commissioner discipline," said league spokesman Greg Aiello regarding the exchange of evidence.
Although the provided evidence was great in numbers and included near 200 pages of documents, emails, notes in handwriting and a PowerPoint presentation, which according to Jonathan Vilma’s lawyer Peter Ginsberg was the dominant feature of the evidence. Gregg Williams’ orders and speech tell the players to” cut-off” an opponent players’ head etc.
However, lawyers of the suspended players are unsatisfied with the available evidence and await more documents from the NFL. Jonathan Vilma’s lawyer Peter Ginsberg contested that the PowerPoint presentation only portrayed a coach’s “distasteful” ploy to motivate his team into the competition.
"The NFL provided a slide show of Gregg Williams' most outrageous comments," said Peter Ginsberg. “There is nothing that evidences opposing players were targeted. There is nothing that evidences any of the players were involved in putting money on the heads of opposing players.”
Gregg Williams that the evidence was not turned over in “a timely manner,” and the evidence did not support Roger Goodell’s degrading claims Jonathan Vilma or any of the other three suspended players. Despite all, Gregg Williams stated the “NFL furthermore has told us it doesn't plan to present any witness at the hearing.” According to Gregg Williams, the NFL refused to consider the NFLPA’s request to present the New Orleans Saints’ head coach Sean Peyton, assistant coach Joe Vitt and offensive coach Gregg Williams at Monday’s hearing.
The NFL has asserted for months that it holds the necessary evidence to New Orleans Saints’ had been operating a pay-for-performance bounty program under Gregg Williams for three years. As a direct violation of the CBA’s "Conduct Detrimental" rules, Roger Goodell handed out punishments around the franchise, suspending Sean Peyton for a year, Joe Vitt for six games, Gregg Williams indefinitely, and New Orleans Saint’s GM Mickey Loomis for eight games.
Jonathan Vilma was suspended for the 2012 season, Will Smith for four games, Anthony Hargrove for eight and Scott Fujita for three.
The players have already lost the battle in front of two arbitrators, contesting Roger Goodell’s right to give suspension for the county program.