New Orleans Saints  

 

Roger Goodell's authority to discipline Hargrove upheld

Arbitrator Stephen Burbank ruled Monday that Packers defensive tackle Anthony Hargrove can be disciplined by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who has suspended Hargrove for eight games for Hargrove's role in the Saints Bounty program.

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Burbank ruled on June 4, in a grievance filed by the NFLPA against the NFL, that Goodell had jurisdiction to suspended Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma (entire 2012 season), Saints defensive end Will Smith (four games) and former Saints linebacker Scott Fujita (three games). He retained jurisdiction over Hargrove, citing some vagueness as to why Hargrove actually was being disciplined.

However, after receiving a letter that the NFL sent to Hargrove on June 8, Burbank stated that the basis for Hargrove's suspension -- "pledging and contributing money to the [bounty] pool" and not necessarily agreeing to accept money -- was consistent with the reasoning for suspending the other players. That, Burbank stated, allowed Goodell to retain the right to rule against the players. The letter also stated Hargrove's lying during the investigation was another reason for his particular punishment.

The NFLPA had argued that the pay-for-performance program actually was a salary-cap issue. The NFL said the bounty program fell under "conduct detrimental" policies of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, upon which Goodell has full authority to rule and hear appeals. The NFLPA had previously said it would appeal Burbank's decision.

The players, who have lost both grievances filed by the NFLPA, have appeal hearings with Goodell scheduled for June 18.

Follow Steve Wyche on Twitter @wyche89

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