The NFL denied the ruling of the CBA Appeals Panel overturned suspensions for the four players suspended by Commissioner Roger Goodell and said Goodell was asked only to clarify earlier rulings.
In a statement released by the NFL early Tuesday, the league said the appeals panel did not question Goodell's authority or power to discipline nor did the three-person panel, including two former judges, question any piece of evidence used in formulating the player discipline in March.
"In light of some confusion surrounding the ruling of the CBA Appeals Panel, it is important to understand what the panel did and did not rule. The panel did not overturn the suspensions and did not say Commissioner Goodell overstepped his authority," the statement read.
"The panel's decision asks no more than that the commissioner clarify his earlier rulings to ensure -- and to clearly state -- that no part of the prior ruling was attributable to matters within Professor Burbank's authority (salary cap violations). It does not require the commissioner to take additional evidence or to "reweigh" the evidence currently in the record. The panel did not take issue with any findings that were made in the course of the investigation, did not exonerate anyone involved, and did not say that the commissioner "overstepped his authority." "
The statement could cause players -- Jonathan Vilma, Anthony Hargrove, Will Smith and Scott Fujita -- to reconsider a meeting with the league and Goodell scheduled for Tuesday in New York.
"The panel made clear that the commissioner had full authority to impose discipline on the players so long as the discipline was attributable to conduct detrimental to the league, rather than "undisclosed compensation." The panel asked only that he clarify that he was not relying on the "undisclosed" nature of the financial incentives in imposing the discipline. In the meantime, the panel put the suspensions on hold. "