The second grievance filed by the NFL Players Association on behalf of four players who were suspended in the New Orleans Saints "bounty" program began Wednesday morning, according to a source with knowledge of the proceedings.
The case will be argued before arbitrator Stephen Burbank at University of Pennsylvania Law School in Philadelphia.
This grievance will argue that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell didn't have the right to suspend linebacker Jonathan Vilma (2012 season), defensive end Will Smith (four games), Green Bay Packers defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove (eight games) and Cleveland Browns linebacker Scott Fujita (three games).
The NFLPA will argue that because Goodell said the suspension partly stemmed from players funding and receiving money as part of a bounty program, the matter is a salary-cap issue, putting it under Burbank's jurisdiction. Burbank will hear and then rule -- at a future date -- whether he or Goodell has jurisdiction over the matter.
The NFLPA argued a grievance two weeks ago before arbitrator Shyam Das that Goodell isn't entitled to rule or hear appeals for alleged behavior that took place on the field. A ruling on that could come down any day, according to a league spokesman.
The NFL has contended -- even before players, Saints coaches Sean Payton and Joe Vitt, general manager Mickey Loomis and the team were punished -- that behavior surrounding the bounty scandal was "conduct detrimental" and fell under the governance of the NFL's and NFLPA's collective bargaining agreement.
Vilma also has sued Goodell for defamation. The case has been assigned to Judge Helen Berrigan, but no date has been set.
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