You choose, we deliver
If you are interested in this story, you might be interested in others from The Journal Gazette. Go to www.journalgazette.net/newsletter and pick the subjects you care most about. We'll deliver your customized daily news report at 3 a.m. Fort Wayne time, right to your email.

Professional

  • Cueto, Reds shut down Pirates
    That playoff loss in Pittsburgh last year? Johnny Cueto never thought about it much. So getting a chance to shut out the Pirates in a rematch wasn’t any more special. Not to him, anyway.
  • Yankees honor Mandela
    The New York Yankees have honored the late Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first black president, with a plaque in Monument Park as part of their Jackie Robinson Day festivities.
  • Box scores
Advertisement

Suspended Saints appeal to Goodell

– NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell heard appeals Monday in the Saints bounty case for four suspended players, who complained that the process is unfair and the league hasn’t proven anything.

Goodell met Monday at NFL headquarters with New Orleans linebacker Jonathan Vilma, who is out for the 2012 season, and defensive end Will Smith, who has been docked for four games; Green Bay defensive end Anthony Hargrove, suspended for eight games; and Cleveland linebacker Scott Fujita (three games).

Vilma left first, after about an hour-long session in the morning.

The linebacker’s attorney, Peter Ginsberg, said the NFL requested an adjournment to Monday afternoon, but he and Vilma refused. Ginsberg called the hearing “a sham” and said Goodell failed to present the evidence on which he based his decision to impose Vilma’s penalty.

“Roger Goodell has taken three months to tear down what I built over eight years. It’s tough to swallow. I have been linked to a bounty and it simply is not true,” said Vilma, who is suing the commissioner for defamation.

“I don’t know how I can get a fair process when he is the judge, jury and executioner. You’re assuming it will be fair, but it’s not.”

Smith, Hargrove and Fujita had their appeals heard by Goodell at afternoon sessions, with their attorneys plus lawyers for the NFL Players Association on hand at the league’s Manhattan offices.

Those players and Vilma were on the Saints roster when then-defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, by his own admission, ran a pay-for-pain operation that handed out cash bonuses for big hits on targeted opponents.

The players dispute the league’s contention that they were involved.

“The NFL’s investigation has been highlighted by sensationalized headlines and unsubstantiated leaks to the media. I have yet to see anything that implicates me ... not in the last three months and not today,” Fujita said. “The NFL has been careless and irresponsible, and at some time will have to provide answers.”

The NFL’s investigation of the Saints found Williams ran a system for three years under which payouts were set on specific opponents, including quarterbacks Brett Favre and Kurt Warner. The program was in effect from 2009, when New Orleans won the Super Bowl, through last season.

The league turned over some evidence to the four players and the union on Friday, as required by the collective bargaining agreement. That information included some 200 pages of documents, with emails, power-point presentations, even handwritten notes, plus one video.

Previously, Goodell suspended Saints coach Sean Payton for the season and assistant coach Joe Vitt for six games. Saints general manager Mickey Loomis got eight games, while Williams – now with the St. Louis Rams – was suspended indefinitely.

Advertisement