Jonathan Vilma, Will Smith, Scott Fujita, and Anthony Hargrove suspensions were lifted by the collective bargaining agreement panel on Friday afternoon, but they could be back in place soon. The players suspensions were lifted because the panel found that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell did not have the authority to issue suspensions if the players did participate in a “pay for performance” program.
Any disciplinary action for “pay for performance” should fall under the authority of special master Stephen Burbank.
Goodell can still go back to the panel and say that he wants to suspend the players for a “pay to injure” program.
He would have the authority to suspend the players in that case because that falls under conduct detrimental to the game.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter a decision most likely will not come before Sunday’s game against the Washington Redskins and more likely in the near future.
The panel did not address the validity of the NFL’s investigation, only the authority of Goodell to suspend the four players under the auspices of “pay for performance”.
While Vilma, Smith, Fujita, and Hargrove are far from done with Roger Goodell they can focus, at least for one week, on playing the game they love.