Bountygate Judge Questions Whether Goodell Can Fine Players For Legal Hits Under CBA
The judge overseeing the bounty lawsuits on Thursday asked the sides by Monday and Tuesday to answer questions on whether NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell could penalize players for what were legal hits under NFL rules. The questions Judge Helen Berrigan posed seemed to suggest she is questioning whether the penalties are enforceable under the collective bargaining agreement. Berrigan in an order Thursday wrote, “[A]ssuming as undisputed the testimony by the New Orleans Saints players and coaches that only `legal hits’ were used to intimidate and/or injure opposing players, the parties shall brief the following: Does Articles 43 and 46 of the CBA exclude discipline by the Commissioner for `legal’ contact?” She also asked the parties, “Does the CBA give the players and coaches adequate notice as to what conduct could be sanctioned as `conduct detrimental?’ In other words, is that portion of the CBA ambiguous, hence unenforceable?” Goodell has based his penalties on his power given to him in the CBA to punish players for what is deemed conduct detrimental to the game. The order comes as former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue is hearing the appeal of the penalties handed down by Goodell to the four former and current Saints for allegedly placing bounties on opposing players.