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Bounty hearings end abruptly, may resume this afternoon

Jonathan Vilma

New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma arrives at the National Football League’s headquarters, Monday, June 18, 2012 in New York. Vilma and three other players are appealing their suspensions for their role in the Saints bounty program. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)


As expected, the bounty hearings didn’t last long. The only question is whether one or more of them will resume.

Not long after unnamed NFL sources told Jim Varney of the New Orleans Times-Picayune that “we could be here awhile,” the hearings ended “unexpectedly quickly,” as Varney explained it via an excellent stream of tweets.

Regardless of whether Saints defensive end Will Smith, Browns linebacker Scott Fujita, and Packers defensive end Anthony Hargrove return, Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma (pictured) won’t be back.

Per Varney, attorney Peter Ginsberg has hinted that additional legal proceedings could be pursued on Vilma’s behalf. “It’s clear the Commissioner has withheld thousands of pages of documents from us,” Ginsberg said Monday.

Varney reports that the NFL said the players requested more time to review the evidence submitted by the league to the NFLPA on Friday, and that the hearings will resume at 1:45 p.m. ET. Ginsberg claims the NFL not the players asked for more time, and Ginsberg said the “disarray” is further evidence that the process is a “sham.”

The proposed delay until 1:45 p.m. ET possibly was selected because the NFL delivered the evidence the league intends to introduce to the NFLPA at roughly 2:00 p.m. ET on Friday. The labor deal requires that any evidence on which the league plans to rely must be disclosed at least three calendar days prior to the hearing.

Still, deeper questions exist regarding the quality of the evidence that the NFL plans to use, and the fundamental fairness (or lack thereof) of the procedures employed. The league apparently plans to give the players a chance to explain themselves, without giving them a chance to properly confront the evidence that established their guilt.

Or, more importantly, without an opportunity to even know what that evidence is.