NFL asserts Goodell has 'full authority to impose discipline on the players'

The NFL moved to clear up what it says is confusion stemming from the ruling by the CBA Appeals Panel that temporarily overturned suspensions of four players for their role in the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal.

The four players – Jonathan Vilma, Scott Fujita, Will Smith and Anthony Hargrove – are scheduled to meet with Commissioner Roger Goodell next week as part of the disciplinary process.

Here is the memo the league sent out this morning:

“In light of some confusion surrounding the ruling of the CBA Appeals Panel, it is important to understand what the panel did and did not rule. The panel did not overturn the suspensions and did not say Commissioner Goodell overstepped his authority.

“The panel’s decision asks no more than that the commissioner clarify his earlier rulings to ensure — and to clearly state — that no part of the prior ruling was attributable to matters within Professor Burbank’s authority (salary cap violations). It does not require the commissioner to take additional evidence or to “reweigh” the evidence currently in the record. The panel did not take issue with any findings that were made in the course of the investigation, did not exonerate anyone involved, and did not say that the commissioner “overstepped his authority.”

“The panel made clear that the commissioner had full authority to impose discipline on the players so long as the discipline was attributable to conduct detrimental to the league, rather than “undisclosed compensation.” The panel asked only that he clarify that he was not relying on the “undisclosed” nature of the financial incentives in imposing the discipline. In the meantime, the panel put the suspensions on hold.”

We’ll see what happens. Goodell will likely move quickly to clear up the matter. Some have suggested some of the original penalties will be reduced.

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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

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