NFLPA disputes Goodell bounty statement

NEW ORLEANS – The NFL Players Association filed documents in federal court disputing commissioner Roger Goodell’s sworn statement that he was prepared to discipline players for their involvement in the Saints bounty pool in March but waited until May as a courtesy to the union.

Attorneys for four players suspended in the bounty investigation have argued the punishment handed down by Goodell should be overturned, in part because the commissioner’s public statements last spring showed he improperly pre-judged the players’ actions.

The documents filed Friday include sworn declarations by sanctioned linebacker Scott Fujita and union chief DeMaurice Smith. Fujita reiterated comments he made in an interview with The Associated Press in June in which he described a phone conversation he had with Goodell in March.

“During our phone conversation on or about March 20, Mr. Goodell told me that he would be coming down hard with punishments on Saints coaches, but that with respect to Saints players, he was not quite sure what he had on them, and that player punishments would therefore take some time,” Fujita’s declaration said.

U.S. District Judge Ginger Berrigan had asked for the league and union to file evidence this week related to the NFL’s contention that Goodell delayed ruling on the players only because he was asked to do so by the union while it conducted its own bounty probe.

In a declaration filed Thursday, Goodell stated he agreed in a phone conversation with Smith “to address discipline of the club and nonplayer employees and then to afford the NFLPA a reasonable opportunity to conduct its own investigation and express its views before I imposed discipline on the players.”

Smith, however, stated in his Friday declaration that while a phone conversation with the commissioner took place, he and Goodell never reached the agreement the commissioner described.

Patriots sign Olympic medalist Demps: At Foxborough, Mass., the New England Patriots agreed to terms with Olympic silver medalist Jeff Demps, who played running back at Florida but was not drafted by an NFL team because he said he wanted to focus on his track career.

Patriots player personnel director Nick Caserio said in his meeting with reporters Friday that the team had nothing to report. But later in the night, after reports began to surface, the Patriots issued a news release, announcing the signing of the 22-year-old sprinter.

Demps earned the Olympic silver medal in the 4x100 relay as part of the team that finished second to Jamaica at the London Games last week.

Chiefs receiver Bowe signs franchise tender: At Kansas City, Mo., Chiefs wide receiver Dwayne Bowe signed his franchise tender after skipping Kansas City’s entire offseason program and the beginning of training camp.

The team announced Friday that Bowe had signed. He will make about $9.5 million this season.

Bowe is coming off another strong season in which he caught 81 passes for 1,159 yards and five touchdowns.

Packers’ Jennings nears return from concussion: At Green Bay, Wis., Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy said wide receiver Greg Jennings has made significant steps in his recovery from a concussion and might be able to return to practice Sunday.

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