NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wants to meet with the players whose bounty suspensions were temporarily lifted “as soon as possible.”
Appearing at a hearing on Capitol Hill, Goodell noted Wednesday that the league “offered several times to have them come in as part of the hearing process, the CBA process, and I hope that they’ll do that soon.”
An appeals panel last week overturned the suspensions of Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma (2012 season) and defensive end Will Smith (four games) for their roles in the team’s bounty program from 2009-11. Browns linebacker Scott Fujita got three games and DE Anthony Hargrove, now a free agent, got eight.
The appeals panel said Goodell must clarify his earlier rulings to ensure that no part of his decision was based on salary cap violations. That would be the jurisdiction of special master Stephen Burbank.
Instead, Goodell must show that the basis for the discipline was inappropriate conduct — such as intent to injure – rather than any secret monetary compensation. In that case, Goodell had full authority to impose the suspensions.
Players and coaches implicated in the bounty pool have testified under oath in a related federal court case they never intended to injure opposing players.
Around the league
Stalled lease negotiations have led to the Buffalo Bills and Erie County favoring a one-year lease extension that would allow the team to keep playing at Ralph Wilson Stadium next season while talks continue on a long-term deal. The parties are negotiating for $200 million to $250 million in improvements for the 39-year-old stadium. … Darrelle Revis is a step closer to getting back on the field for the New York Jets. The star cornerback, who suffered what the team called a “mild concussion” in Sunday’s victory over Buffalo, was cleared to resume physical activity – running and lifting weights – but he’s still not allowed to participate in contact drills. The Jets play at Pittsburgh on Sunday. … NFL teams combined for 791 points, the most for an opening week and second most in league history. Last week, games averaged just more than 49 points, led by five teams putting up at least 40: the Jets (48), Ravens (44), Bears (41), Falcons (40), and Redskins (40).