NFL commissioner Roger Goodell rejected the appeals of four players suspended in connection with the league’s bounty investigation of the New Orleans Saints.
Goodell told Jonathan Vilma, Anthony Hargrove, Will Smith and Scott Fujita that each of them is still welcome to meet with him to give their side of the story, and that he reserves the right to reduce the suspensions should new information be brought forth.
The players intend to fight Goodell’s rulings through the federal court system.
“The players are disappointed with the league’s conduct during this process,” the union’s statement said. “We reiterate our concerns about the lack of fair due process, lack of integrity of the investigation and lack of the jurisdictional authority to impose discipline under the collective bargaining agreement.
“Moreover, the commissioner took actions during this process that rendered it impossible for him to be an impartial arbitrator.”
EX-UW STAR DIES
Ben Davidson, the hulking defensive end who starred for the Oakland Raiders in the 1960s before becoming a famous actor and television pitch man, died. He was 72.
Davidson, who played on Rose Bowl-winning teams at the University of Washington in 1960-61, was battling prostate cancer.
The 6-foot-8 Davidson, known for his handlebar mustache, raspy voice and physical (some would say dirty) play, played for the Raiders from 1964-71. He was first-team all-NFL in 1967.
“He was a tough, gutsy ballplayer, team oriented with enough meanness in him to be feared and enough talent to be effective,” said former teammate Tom Flores, who went on to coach the Raiders and the Seattle Seahawks.
After his playing career, Davidson became a successful actor with roles in films as “M*A*S*H,” “Conan the Barbarian” and “Necessary Roughness” and he played himself in popular Miller Lite ads.
Quarterback Drew Brees gained leverage in his contract talks with the Saints when an arbitrator ruled in Brees’ favor in a dispute over how much the Saints would have to pay the star quarterback if they applied the franchise tag to him again in 2013. The arbitrator said if the Saints apply the franchise tag in 2013, Brees would be entitled to a 44 percent raise to about $23.5 million because it would be his third career franchise tag. ... Suspended New Orleans coach Sean Payton and his wife of nearly 20 years have filed dueling divorce petitions in Texas. ... Buccaneers cornerback Eric Wright was arrested in Los Angeles for investigation of driving under the influence after he was involved in a crash near Staples Center.