Players appealing suspensions stemming from their alleged involvement in the Saints' bounty scandal will collectively have two hearings and likely two different arbitrators in their challenges of Commissioner Roger Goodell's jurisdiction.
Jonathan Vilma, Anthony Hargrove, Scott Fujita and Will Smith are appealing suspensions beginning with a hearing Wednesday to be heard by Shyam Das. The first grievance is on the basis that Goodell gave up his authority to suspend players for any actions predating the signing of the new collective bargaining agreement in August.
The other hearing, scheduled for May 30, will challenge Goodell's right to suspend players for on-field actions typically heard by appeals officers Art Shell and Ted Cottrell. Shell is a former player and coach. Cottrell was a longtime defensive coach.
Vilma was suspended for the 2012 season and Hargrove eight games. Smith (four games) and Fujita (three games) received lesser punishment, but the NFLPA claims, through executive director DeMaurice Smith and union president Domonique Foxworth, that the punishment is unwarranted because the league hasn't turned over a grain of evidence.
NFL writer Judy Battista of the New York Times reported Wednesday that the NFL does plan to release some of the evidence it has in the bounty case to the public, but is diligently working to protect the sources of the information.