|Cedric Benson hasn't yet been suspended. (US PRESSWIRE)|
Cedric Benson is reportedly facing a three-game suspension for violating the NFL's player-conduct policy during the lockout. But when the Bengals face the Bills this weekend, Benson will be on the field.
"I'm playing," he said according to the Bengals' official Twitter feed. And head coach Marvin Lewis confirms it.
While there hasn't been an announcement from the NFL regarding Benson's suspension, he met with the league Tuesday as part of his appeal hearing. An explanation of the process from NFL spokesman Greg Aiello (sent to PFT Wednesday morning) sheds some light on the process.
“A player is not suspended until he has had an opportunity to file an appeal and for that appeal to be heard and adjudicated,” Aiello said via email.
There doesn't appear to be a timetable on when a ruling will come, either. The biggest issue is that Benson, who is apart of the NFL Players Association, was unaware that the NFLPA and the NFL had agreed to punish some of the players who had violated the league's conduct policy during the lockout. In fact, Benson last week filed a charge of unfair labor practice against the NFLPA.
CBSSports.com colleague Josh Katzowitz wrote Sunday, "Benson is arguing to the National Labor Relations Board that the NFLPA wasn’t a union during the lockout -- the NFL and a group of retired players all have made the same claim in various lawsuits because, in fact, the NFLPA decertified before the lockout began and took great pains to announce that it no longer was a union -- and Benson also says that he wasn’t an employee of any team during the lockout. Benson reasons that he shouldn't be suspended for actions that occurred when he wasn't an employee of the NFL or of the Bengals."
Benson isn't alone. Teammate Andrew Whitworth agrees.
"The union let those eight guys down,” Whitworth said, via CBSSports.com Rapid Reporter Paul Dehner. “I don’t feel like that was fair. To me, if I was told that was a make or break, I would've said that’s a make or break deal that we were going to sell out eight guys to have an agreement."
As PFT.com's Mike Florio pointed out Wednesday, "The biggest question seems to be whether the NFL has the power to impose discipline against players for off-field conduct occurring during the lockout. In Benson’s case, the situation is complicated by the fact that he wasn’t even employed by an NFL team, since his prior contract with the Bengals had expired."
Who knows how long it will take to sort this out, bur for now, Benson will keep playing.
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