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Saints grievance hearings coming on May 16, 30

Super Bowl Football

New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma (51) breaks up a reception on Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Austin Collie (17) during the second half of the NFL Super Bowl XLIV football game in Miami, Sunday, Feb. 7, 2010. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)


If you weren’t watching PFT Live on Friday, you missed lawyer Peter Ginsberg talking extensively and in-depth regarding the issues arising from the NFL’s suspension of four players as a result of the bounty investigation: Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma, Saints defensive end Will Smith, Packers defensive end Anthony Hargrove, and Browns linebacker Scott Fujita.

Ginsberg, who represents Vilma, said that the two grievances filed earlier this month will be heard on May 16 and May 30.

The first hearing will focus on the argument that the new CBA prevents the NFL from taking action of any kind against players for conduct occurring before August 4, 2011, along with the question of whether the appeals should be heard not by Commissioner Roger Goodell but by Ted Cottrell or Art Shell, jointly hired and paid by the league and the NFLPA to resolve appeals for on-field discipline.

The May 30 hearing centers on the contention that, to the extent the discipline arises from extra money paid to players in violation of the salary cap, the matter should be resolved via Special Master Stephen Burbank.

Ginsberg also said that the league still has not given him or the NFLPA evidence proving that the players funded or received payments from a bounty program, and he confirmed that other legal proceedings could be utilized. The ultimate goal is to find a forum that will compel the NFL to share the evidence it has gathered regarding the question of whether the players are guilty, or innocent.

One way or the other, it’s only fair for the NFL to eventually disclose the evidence, and to provide a fair opportunity for Ginsberg and the NFLPA to scrutinize it.