Also, according to ESPN's Pat Yasinskas, "The bottom line is that situation still has a long way to go before being fully done. As long as the appeals are active, the players don’t have to begin their suspensions. Smith previously was involved in the StarCaps situation and that dragged on for several years before he finally had to serve a two-game suspension last year. If the appeals aren’t finalized by the start of the season, it’s possible Vilma and Smith could begin the season with the Saints. They have continued to work out at the team facility throughout the offseason.
Below is the statement by the Players Association:
The NFL Players Association will appeal today’s decision to the Appeals Panel provided by the CBA for the review of all system arbitrator decisions.
Any pay-to-injure program runs counter to the health and safety principles we stand for as players. However, none of the players punished in this case have seen a shred of evidence justifying the NFL’s punishment.
In the opinion, system arbitrator Stephen Burbank wrote, “[I]t is important to emphasize – with respect to all of the Players – that nothing in this opinion is intended to convey a view about the underlying facts or the appropriateness of the discipline imposed.”
The union believes that the players are entitled to neutral arbitration of these issues under the CBA and will continue to fight for that principle and to protect the fair due process rights of all players.
Ed Staton is a former sports writer for the Times Picayune and New Orleans States Item. He also served as the New Orleans Saints Information Director. He has won 43 media awards in writing, design and photography.