Players claim Roger Goodell rushed to judgment in bounty scandal
Did NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell decide that players allegedly involved in the Saints’ bounty pool were guilty even before all the facts from the league’s investigation were in?
That’s what the NFL Players Assn. alleges in a court filing Friday that disputes Goodell’s sworn statement that he was prepared to issue punishments to players in March, but waited until May as a courtesy to the union.
The documents filed Friday include sworn statements by New Orleans Saints linebacker Scott Fujita -- one of four players issued punishments by the NFL for their alleged role in the bounty pool -- that Goodell talked about issuing punishments to players in March before the league’s investigation into the scandal was complete.
The union contends that Goodell was quoted in media reports as late as April 24 that the league “was continuing our work” into player investigations and that he hoped “to reach those decisions very soon.”
In a sworn statement filed Friday, Fujita described a conversation he said he had with Goodell in March:
“During our phone conversation on or about March 20, Mr. Goodell told me that he would be coming down hard with punishments on Saints coaches, but that with respect to Saints players, he was not quite sure what he had on them, and that player punishments would therefore take some time,” Fujita’s statement said.
The filing was in response to U.S. District Judge Ginger Berrigan’s request for the union to file evidence supporting its claim that Goodell pre-judged the players. On Thursday, the NFL filed with the court a letter from the union in which it asked Goodell to delay issuing punishments to players involved in the scandal.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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