There was no hard evidence.
That was the reason they were in this fight to begin with.
The NFL can't just take a guys salary on interpretations of circumstantial evidence.
Something did happen here...there were payments and I don't think anybody questions that. But there was no clear evidence that the payments were the result of guys clearly playing dirty to hurt guys.
In fact, the ruling stated that:
1) The conduct in question may be punishable under both Articles 14 and 46
2) The NFLPA agrees with #1
3) The arbitrator admits to having no idea whether the severity of the punishment was in any way related to the alleged Article 14 violations
4) The Commissioner can exercise his exclusive jurisdiction to punish the players under Article 46, and the arbitrator could further punish them under Article 14.
Once again, Vilma can celebrate, but I don't see where he's won much of anything yet. The arbitrator has clearly affirmed the Commissioner's power to punish him under Article 46.
Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, nor have I ever played on on TV.
And whatever his new ruling is, it won't take place before this weekend's games - the NFL has already said the suspensions are lifted and the players are eligible to play this weekend. In fact, the NFL actually granted the Browns a roster exemption (to 54) so they can put Fugita back on the active roster.
It could end up being significant, depending on the evidence, because some of the players may have been penalized more for the money side of things (like Vilma) rather than actual intentional attempts to injure.
In other words, Goodell hated the whole scheme, and penalized the "ringleaders" more than the grunts because of it, but if the violations are looked at as separate pieces, then maybe the ringleaders/money-providers actually did less (just paid for performance) than the grunts/guys who were trying to earn the money (intending to injure).
It will be interesting to see if Goodell reduces them just to try to end the distraction, and if so, by how much.
"In Monday's meeting, the NFL gave Vilma a sworn affidavit from former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams that the New Orleans linebacker offered $10,000 to any teammate who knocked quarterback Brett Favre out of the January 2010 NFC Championship Game"
Link to the artice:
And the affidavit:
Goodell and NFL still look bad.
Vilma has since Tweeted that he has 9 affadavits stating that he did not offer any bounty. And that The Gregg Williams affadavit was signed just 3 days ago. This would mean that Goodell had no such evidence at the time he gave out punishments.
I was jsut watching this news on SportsCenter.
Sounds really shady on Goodell's part if true.
JUST having an affidavit (or 9) doesn't mean anything. So both sides look silly when they say they have affidavits and start keeping an affidavit score card, like Vilma is doing.
But when combined with the totality of this, I still think something went on and they got caught.
The only way I see this ending bad for the league is if the Williams affidavit is all they have. But from everything I am reading, the league is holding their cards (read evidence) close to the chest. They leaked the video which shows Hargrove bragging about the bounty and now we know it was Williams himself that gave the league a statement.
I am willing to bet this will be a slow burn by the league, culminating in Vilma looking like a fool.
Vilma got pwned. Will be interesting to follow I guess, although their season looks almost done starting 0-2. Gives them about a 12% chance of making the playoffs.