Vilma has been suspended without pay for the entire 2012 season, Hargrove eight games, Smith four games and Fujita for three games.
"Throughout this entire process, including your appeals, and despite repeated invitations and encouragement to do so, none of you has offered any evidence that would warrant reconsideration of your suspensions. Instead, you elected not to participate meaningfully in the appeal process..." Goodell wrote in a letter to the players.
"Although you claimed to have been 'wrongfully accused with insufficient evidence,' your lawyers elected not to ask a single question of the principal investigators, both of whom were present at the hearing (as your lawyers had requested); you elected not to testify or to make any substantive statement, written or oral, in support of your appeal; you elected not to call a single witness to support your appeal; and you elected not to introduce a single exhibit addressing the merits of your appeal. Instead, your lawyers raised a series of jurisdictional and procedural objections that generally ignore the CBA, in particular its provisions governing 'conduct detrimental' determinations..."
"In sum, I did not make my determinations here lightly. At every stage, I took seriously my responsibilities under the Collective Bargaining Agreement. I determined the discipline for each of you
(1) only after a long, detailed and professional investigation by NFL Security's experienced investigators;
(2) only after the results of that investigation were carefully reviewed by an independent expert, former United States Attorney Mary Jo White;
(3) only after I heard the appeals of the Saints' coaches and staff regarding discipline for their roles in the program;
(4) only after representatives of NFL Security, along with Mr. Pash and Mr. Birch, spoke with Players Association attorneys at length regarding the investigation; and
(5) only after giving each of you multiple opportunities to meet with the NFL investigators and to share with them your version of the events surrounding the program. The suspensions imposed were reasonable action taken to preserve public confidence in, and the integrity of, the game of professional football."
The players and NFL Players Association had previously challenged Goodell's authority to hear the player appeals, but their arguments were rejected by two arbitrators.
"While this decision constitutes my final and binding determination under the CBA, I of course retain the inherent authority to reduce a suspension should facts be brought to my attention warranting the exercise of that discretion," Goodell wrote. "The record confirms that each of you was given multiple chances to meet with me to present your side of the story. You are each still welcome to do so."
This is basically what I expected to happen for the exact reason I expected it to happen. The Saints never bothered to defend themselves. Sure, they made alot of press statements claiming innocence and attacking Goodell, but when it came to putting on a meaningful defense they never did a thing. they presented no evidence of their innocence.
Their lawyers did not ask a single question of the investigators at the hearing. the playes themselves refused to testify on their own behalf. Hell, they straight up walked out of the hearing. Not the actions of people sure they are innocent. Basically the Saints refused to put on any kind of case in their own defense. I have to agree with Goodell here. Show me any court anywhere that would rule in your favor when you refuse to even participate in the hearing. There is none.
There's no way Goodell was going to overturn the punishments or even reduce them when the Saints themselves don't care to defend themselves in any meaningful way beyond blabbing to the media how the "big bad monster" Goodell is making this whole thing up to be mean to them. By not presenting any kind of defense the Saints gave goodell no reason to reconsider their punishments. However, Goodell was good enough to say that he'll still be willing to meet with Saints personel and consider any evidence they want to bring to him. I have a feeling they won't bother though. They're too busy trying to paint Goodell as a monsterous tyrant so they can go over his head to the US courts. Kind reminds me of a child knowing they're in trouble with daddy so they're running to mommy.
I'm not saying that the evidence against the Saints is perfect and unshakable. Far form it. however, I can't see how this was going to end any other way when the Saints basically refused to have anything to do with Goodell or defend themselves to the NFL in any way beyond making pointless media statements that are basically nothing more their word against the NFL's. I have no doubt they'll continue to try and get this to court, but in order to do that they'll have to prove that Goodell violated the CBA, and seeing as how the Saints either don't seem to have any evidence to present in their defense, or don't care to present anything but empty press statements, I don't see them succeeding. whether innocnet or guilty, the Saints have lost.