After Anthony Hargrove, Scott Fujita, Will Smith and Jonathan Vilma were suspended as part of the New Orleans Saints’ Bountygate scandal, they appealed the punishment, and the ruling on the case will likely come down this week.
In advance of Paul Tagliabue's expected ruling on the appeal of the Saints' Bountygate case this week, the NFL extended a settlement offer to the four suspended players, according to several sources with knowledge of the situation. The NFLPA summarily rejected those offers, sources said, with the terms not close to being enough for the parties to end the process at this point.
While the NFL has remained steadfast in its original ruling, the fact that the league even made an offer and the NFLPA rejected it signifies Tagliabue may actually be ruling in favor of the players in the appeal.
That's bad news for the league.
Was the league in the wrong?
What It Means
The NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell have remained adamant about the fact that all original punishments were more than fair, and overturning them would undermine the authority of the league.
The problem is that Goodell may have been wrong.
If the Commissioner didn’t use his best judgment in severity of punishments or took into consideration evidence that may have been misinterpreted, the league’s duty is to correct the injustice no matter how bad it makes the NFL look.
Tagliabue has remained silent through his proceedings, but La Canfora is reporting that there may be a feeling that the NFL went too far:
Tagliabue has expressed reservations with the detail and accuracy of evidence and testimony provided by the NFL in this case, according to sources involved in the recently-completed appeal hearings
This is the worst-case scenario for the league and Goodell, who have been defending their punishments from day one.
For the players, though, winning this appeal against the league, and Goodell would be the ultimate vindication.
Check back for more on the National Football League as it comes, and don’t miss Bleacher Report’s NFL page to get your fill of all things football.