As reported earlier, the suspensions of the 4 former and current Saints players involved in the Bounty Gate scandal has been overturned, allowing for the players to be available to play immediately.
For months, the reaction to the suspensions has been that Roger Goodell had abused his authority without showing the proof to support his decision. Jonathan VIlma, Will Smith; Cleveland Browns LB Scott Shanle, and Free Agent DT Anthony Hargrove were all suspended for multiple games, ranging from 3 games to an entire season.
Vilma, the player accused of leading the bounty scandal amongst the players, had vehemently fought to clear his name of any wrongdoing and his day in court has apparently gone in his favor. Vilma was slated to be suspended for the entire season.
Although this is a small victory for the players, the NFL reminds us that the ordeal is not over yet:
“Consistent with the panel’s decision, commissioner Goodell will, as directed, make an expedited determination of the discipline imposed for violating the league’s pay-for-performance/bounty rule. Until that determination is made, the four players are reinstated and eligible to play starting this weekend.”
In the micro, this is a big win for the players. Goodell has been seen as a dictator by many, and this ruling he made back in May, was not greeted with positivity. With this win, Vilma and the other suspended players will able to get back into the swing of football activities, but will be losing time to get into game shape, which may last the entire time period that the appeal is under review.
In the macro, however, this is going to be a pretty big test for Goodell. The overturning can (and probably will) open plenty of eyes about how much absolute power he holds. Will he hold firm and propose a similar penalty to the players? Or will he back off, and lessen the suspensions dramatically? Everything we have learned about Goodell when it comes to player punishment says he will still look to drive his point home.
Unfortunately, Coach Sean Payton and GM Mickey Loomis remain suspended, as they are not a part of the NFLPA.