Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 5/4/12

WASHINGTON - SEPTEMBER 18: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell (R) speaks during a hearing of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee with NFL Players Association Executive Director Gene Upshaw (L) and Pro Football Hall of Fame player and Coach Mike Ditka (C) on Capitol Hill September 18, 2007 in Washington, DC. Former players and league officials appeared before the committee for a hearing on the 'NFL Retirement System,' focusing on the current compensation system for retirees with claims of advanced injuries that became symptomatic after retiring from the NFL. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

The NFLPA filed a grievance challenging commissioner Roger Goodell's authority to suspend four Saints' players for alleged roles in the bounty scandal.

Before it is immediately dismissed as legal conjecture, consider the months-old CBA included a provision that dismissed off-field actions typically subject to fine or suspension if they took place before Aug. 4, 2011. The NFLPA is also challenging that the punishment in this specific case should be handled not by Goodell, but Ted Cottrell and Art Shell, who oversee on-field punishment.

The NFLPA has repeatedly said it has been shown no evidence of the bounty program's existence or player involvement therein.

Furthermore, the evidence the NFL cites against Jonathan Vilma, suspended by Goodell for the entire 2012 season, predates Aug. 4, 2011. The two instances of Vilma "actively leading" the bounty program came in 2009 in games against the Arizona Cardinals and Minnesota V ikings. Vilma allegedly offered $10,000 of his own money to any player who could take out Kurt Warner, and the same reward for forcing Brett Favre out of the 2009 NFC Championship game.

"After seeing the NFL's decision letters, the NFLPA has still not received any detailed or specific evidence from the league of these specific players’ involvement in an alleged pay-to-injure program," DeMaurice Smith, NFL Players Association Executive Director, said in a statement Wednesday. "We have made it clear that punishment without evidence is not fair."

In addition to Vilma, linebacker Scott Fujita, defensive end Will Smith and defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove drew suspensions. Smith (four games) is still with the Saints, as is Vilma.

Hargrove (eight games) signed with the Packers in the offseason. Fujita (three games), an active players union leader, plays for the Browns.

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