Allegedly, Jonathan Vilma sought to break one of the rules by a role in what has been called the "player injury bounty program." Because of that, Commissioner Roger Goodell had ordered him suspended from the game for a whole season.
The NFL appealed and U.S. District Judge Helen G. Berrigan of New Orleans heard that request to overturn the suspension, reports Bloomberg. She went on record as saying she perceived the remedy as too harsh. However, she added that she may be unable to overturn it. According to the collective bargaining agreement between the league and NLF players, the Commissioner has the authority to create and enforce such remedies.
This, of course, brings up the universal question of how to fit the punishment to the "crime," or, as some religions frame it, to the "sin." Shakespeare approached that in "The Merchant of Venice." Since my days as an undergradate at Seton Hill, in western Pennsyvlania, I have been haunted by a punishment dished out to a confused freshman.
Let's call her Marie. She had lost the campaign to be president of the Freshman class. One Saturday night she stayed out about six hours past curfew. The internal court, made up of administration, professors, and students elected to serve, met. She was suspended for a year.
When we her classmates later visited her at her home during a semester break, she seemed broken. What I had observed was a "refrigerator mother." To me this young woman needed therapy, not exclusion.
Would a more "just" and productive sentence have been for her to be mandated to assist the handicapped Freshman students at Seton Hill? One was blind and needed help with reading materials. Another had mobility problems and could have used a pair of legs to run over to the library for a book. Along with that, she would have sessions with someone trained in healing at the college for as long as it took.
The message delivered would have been: We can grow from our mistakes.