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Arbitrator dismisses NFLPA 'bounty' grievance related to CBA

NEW YORK -- A second arbitrator ruled Friday that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has the authority to discipline Saints players for their roles in a bounty program.

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The players' union claimed Goodell is prohibited from punishing players for any conduct before the CBA was signed last August. The union also sought to have player appeals heard by Art Shell and Ted Cottrell, who are jointly appointed by the league and union to review discipline handed out for on-field conduct.

But arbitrator Shyam Das ruled Friday that Goodell is entitled to hand out the punishment and hear any appeals in the matter. Arbitrator Stephen Burbank ruled the same way Monday in a different grievance claim brought by the NFLPA, and the union said it would appeal.

Goodell suspended Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma for the entire 2012 season and defensive end Will Smith for four games. Former Saints defensive end Anthony Hargrove, now with Green Bay, was suspended for eight games, while linebacker Scott Fujita, now with Cleveland, was docked three games.

All four players appealed, and the league has set June 18 as the hearing date.

Das dismissed the grievance, saying Goodell did not relinquish authority to impose discipline for conduct detrimental to the game that occurred before the CBA was signed last August.

Vilma also has sued Goodell for defamation in a U.S. District Court in New Orleans and Goodell has been given until July 5 to respond to the action.

Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press

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