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Goodell urges Saints to meet with him, could reduce suspensions

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)


NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell continues to maintain that he has the full authority to decide on the suspensions of four Saints players for their roles in the team’s bounty program, but in his letter to the four players today, he provided at least a glimmer of hope that he could be persuaded to reduce those suspensions.

In the league’s announcement about Goodell upholding the suspensions of Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma, Packers defensive end Anthony Hargrove, Saints defensive end Will Smith and Browns linebacker Scott Fujita, a portion of the letter from Goodell to the players indicates that the Commissioner still wants to hear from the players and is committed to listening to what they have to say.

“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 to the players. “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.”

For their part, the players seem to think meeting with Goodell would be futile, and they’d be better off going to court to obtain an injunction preventing the NFL from implementing their suspensions. Goodell may say his door is open and he’s ready to listen, but the players believe he has presided over an unfair investigation that he has no intention of opening his mind.