NEW YORK (AP) - An arbitrator has ruled that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has the authority to discipline New Orleans Saints players for their role in a bounty system.
The NFL Players Association challenged Goodell's power to impose penalties for what the league says was a 3-year bounty program that targeted specific players. Stephen Burbank, a University of Pennsylvania law professor, says Goodell has the power to punish the players under the collective bargaining agreement reached last August to end the lockout.
Goodell suspended Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma for the entire 2012 season and teammate Will Smith for four games. Former Saints defensive end Anthony Hargrove, now with Green Bay, was suspended for eight games, while linebacker Scott Fujita, now with Cleveland, was docked three games.
Those players have appealed the suspensions.