The NFLPA, arguing on behalf of four members of the Saints who were suspended for their roles in New Orleans' bounty scandal, was actually fighting the war on two fronts. There was one lawsuit in federal court, and a second, quieter appeal to a three-member panel, challenging Goodell's jurisdiction in issuing the suspensions. This afternoon, a union source told NFL.com and others, that panel unanimously ruled in favor of the players, and their suspensions will be stayed immediately.
This is a massive victory for the union, just a year removed from a bitter labor battle. The panel didn't address the part the players played in the bounty program, but rather whether the CBA gave NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell the authority to unilaterally punish them in the first place. Despite arbitrator Shyam Das upholding Goodell's own ruling (Das has not had a good run recently), the appeals panel said otherwise. In an additional irony, the appeals panel itself was the last in-house line of defense for the players, as mandated by the collective bargaining agreement.