NFL commissioner Roger Goodell received a letter from NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith outlining what the union expects in determining the fate of those players whose suspensions were lifted in the Saints bounty case, reports ESPN.com.
The letter contains issues such as reaffirming the players’ contention no pay-to-injure program ever existed and expressing a willingness to engage in settlement negotiations.
“It’s great these players were vindicated and able to join their teammates on the sideline,” Smith told ESPN. “But at the end of the day, my hope is that our players and fans understand that any time this kind of thing happens, it vindicates the importance of collective bargaining. It vindicates the importance of fairness and it certainly vindicates the notion that power is not absolute.”
A three-member appeals panel reinstated Saints players Jonathan Vilma and Will Smith, Cleveland Browns linebacker Scott Fujita and free agent Anthony Hargrove on Friday. Smith has said that there is no proof those players were ever involved in a pay-to-injure scheme.
“I don’t know, and you know that I never guess,” Smith said. “We believe the three-judge panel indicates that clearly there was a violation of the process. So it seems to me the premium now is on making sure the process is correct and fair.”