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Suspended Saints players' grievance hearing ends without ruling

  • By Albert Breer and Steve Wyche NFL.com
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The grievance brought by the NFL Players Association against the NFL in the New Orleans Saints "bounty" scandal was argued Wednesday for two-and-a-half hours before arbitrator Shyam Das at NFL headquarters in New York, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.

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There was no ruling and there are no further hearings scheduled for this particular grievance, which centers on whether Commissioner Roger Goodell has the power to punish players for the so-called bounty program since it occured prior to the current labor agreement signed last August.

The NFL was represented by Dan Nash of Akin Gump law firm as well as other league attorneys. Jeffrey Kessler argued the NFLPA's grievance.

Ex-Saints linebacker Scott Fujita and ex-Saints defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove, were present for the hearing, according to knowledgeable sources.

The players also have filed to appeal with Goodell following the grievance hearings.

Hargrove has been assessed an eight-game suspension and Fujita a three-game suspension for their involvement in the bounty program run by the Saints coaching staff. The pay-to-injure scheme rewarded defensive players with cash bonuses for a "knock-out" or "cart-off" of opponents between the 2009 and 2011 seasons.

Suspended Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma did not attend today's grievance hearing, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. Vilma opted to stay in New Orleans and take part in the team's offseason workouts, but was active on Twitter. Vilma has been suspended for the entire 2012 season.

Saints defensive end Will Smith has been suspended four games by the league.

There is another grievance hearing filed on behalf of the suspended players by the NFLPA scheduled for May 30 in front of Special Master Stephen Burbank.

Follow Albert Breer on Twitter @AlbertBreer.

Follow Steve Wyche on Twitter @wyche89.

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