New Orleans Saints  

 

Players likely to challenge Goodell's bounty rulings in court

The players suspended in the aftermath of the New Orleans Saints' "bounty" program have refused to speak with NFL officials, partially to preserve a chance to challenge Commissioner Roger Goodell's jurisdiction in federal court, a source with knowledge of the situation said Monday.

The players had opportunities to confer with officials before their suspensions were handed down and at their appeals hearings last week. However, doing so could have been interpreted as an acknowledgement that Goodell was acting within his proper jurisdiction.

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Players have lost two grievances before arbitrators challenging Goodell's jurisdiction to rule against them and hear their appeals. One of those rulings is being appealed.

Linebacker Jonathan Vilma -- who's using his own attorney, not the NFL Players Association lawyers used by the three other players -- possibly tipped the strategy Monday by tweeting, "What's this guy waiting on? Make your ruling so we can get on with phase 2 already."

Vilma apparently was referring to Goodell. The commissioner hasn't ruled whether or not to uphold the suspensions for Vilma (one season), Will Smith (four games), former Saints defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove (eight games) and former Saints linebacker Scott Fujita (three games). The NFL said it hasn't set a timetable for when it could rule.

Follow Steve Wyche on Twitter @wyche89

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