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NFLPA asks for restraining order in bounty case

The NFL Players Association filed for a temporary restraining order in federal court in New Orleans on Tuesday that would allow suspended players Will Smith of the New Orleans Saints, Scott Fujita of the Cleveland Browns and Anthony Hargrove, who was cut by the Green Bay Packers, to possibly play in their respective season openers.

The temporary restraining order was filed with U.S. District Judge Ginger Berrigan in New Orleans, the same judge who has yet to rule on a temporary restraining order filed by suspended Saints middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma.

All have been cited by the NFL as leaders in the New Orleans Saints' bounty scandal that allegedly occurred from 2009 to 2011.

Berrigan has enjoined all of the players' filings, meaning that any ruling she makes will directly affect the four players who have been suspended in the bounty case, according to an NFLPA spokesman. Vilma filed his motion weeks ago, but Berrigan has said she was making sure she had jurisdiction to rule on the issue.

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The NFLPA made its filing Tuesday because an appellate ruling has yet to be issued regarding two arbitrators' findings that the NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell were within proper jurisdiction to suspend the players within the collective bargaining agreement, NFLPA spokesman George Atallah said.

The appeals ruling could guide Berrigan's decision to grant the restraining order. However, since all sides are waiting -- a league source said no time frame was provided -- the NFLPA moved forward with its filing for the restraining order/injunction.

No timetable was provided as to when Berrigan could rule, but with all teams opening the regular season this week, the NFLPA is hopeful a ruling could come immediately so those players on teams might be able to play.

Vilma began serving his season-long suspension weeks ago. Fujita (three games), Smith (four games) and Hargrove (eight games) began their suspensions Monday.

Follow Steve Wyche on Twitter @wyche89

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