NFL confirms suspensions for 4 in Saints bounty scandal
The Saints' Jonathan Vilma will sit out the season after all, according to an NFL decision Tuesday.
October 9th, 2012
05:42 PM ET

NFL confirms suspensions for 4 in Saints bounty scandal

The National Football League reaffirmed Tuesday that it would suspend four players in connection with the New Orleans Saints' controversial "bounty" program, a month after the league postponed the suspensions after the players appealed.

Suspensions for two of the players former Saint and current Cleveland Brown Scott Fujita and free agent Anthony Hargrove have been reduced. But the suspensions for Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma (the rest of the season) and defensive end Will Smith (four games) are unchanged.

The league suspended the four in May, concluding that they had leadership roles in the Saints' pay-for-injury program. But the league postponed the suspensions in September after an appeal, with an appeals panel saying Commissioner Roger Goodell would review the punishment and need to clarify the reasons for the punishments.

The delay allowed Fujita and Smith to play the first few games of this season. Although the other two were eligible to play, Vilma is on the Saints' list of those physically unable to perform, and Hargrove has no team.

"In letters to each player and a memorandum to the clubs, Commissioner Goodell clarified that his decision was based entirely on his finding that the bounty program represented conduct detrimental to the league and professional football," the NFL said Tuesday. "The Saints’ bounty program operated over a three-year period and offered incentives to players for plays including 'cart-offs' and 'knock-outs,' which were plays that caused injuries to opponents."

The following are the new punishments:

Vilma: Suspended for the season, as prescribed previously. He will retain the salary he earned while on the physically-unable-to-perform list during the first six weeks of the season.

Smith: Suspended for four games, as prescribed previously.

Hargrove: Suspended for seven games, down from eight. He will be credited with five games served as a free agent, so he will be suspended only two games when he signs with another team.

Fujita: Suspended for one game, down from three.

The NFL said the decision was made after Goodell met with the players: the "first time those players had agreed to speak directly to the NFL to give their side of the story," according to the league.

The players can appeal the new decision. The players' union, the NFLPA, has opposed the punishments.

The NFL has "failed to produce evidence that the players intended to injure anyone, ever," the NFLPA said Tuesday.

"We will review this decision thoroughly and review all options to protect our players’ rights with vigilance," the NFLPA said.

The NFL previously suspended Saints coach Sean Payton for the 2012 season while levying an indefinite suspension on former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who was accused of masterminding the bonus program.

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soundoff (41 Responses)
  1. Bobby

    I've been a Saints fan since they came into the league in 1967. I have no problems with the punishments metted out. Football should be a sport, not a contest to injure other players.

    October 9, 2012 at 6:59 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Ryan

    How many illegal hits were conducted during the time of the bounty? If the hits were legal, who cares? That's football. Go play tennis.

    October 9, 2012 at 7:02 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Captain Obvious

    Like it matters. The Aints are going 3-15 either way.

    October 9, 2012 at 7:04 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • ME

      3-15? In a 16 game season? Captain Obvious is obviously not good with math.

      October 9, 2012 at 7:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sinfully Yours

      @ME: Give him a break, he's a Jets fan. Can you blame him for being bad at math?

      October 10, 2012 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
  4. Proof

    NFL & Roger G, SHOW ME THE PROOF!!!!!!!!!!!! If there is proof then show it and if it shows in fact the Saints were out to knock players out of the game then so be it with the suspensions. Until then, tell me what are you hiding? I am not asking for your tax return or birth certificate, I just want to see actual proof. Until proof is shown, I question your integrity and your motives. Your not setting a very good example for the youngsters Roger.

    October 9, 2012 at 7:04 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Saints Lover

    Goodell has no proof... but continues to punish the Saints... Vengence will be the Saints... Maybe not this year... but we will get it...Goodell will get what's coming to him.... I find it so strange that Superbowl is in New Orleans and all this bounty crap and suspensions come out the same year... Whatever I ready to put a bounty on Goodell.... Screw you Goodelll... You will be exposed....

    October 9, 2012 at 7:09 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Sinfully Yours

      I can't wait to see this so called vengence. Are you going to show Goodell what for when the team relocates to LA? Yeah, that'll really show him. :-P

      October 10, 2012 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
  6. Stayclassy

    Ryan and Proof must be wearing the gold colored Saint goggles if you two can't see what hits were illegal (see Brett Favre's High-low talking as a prime example). The team is being penalized with this and in turn is having a bad season (as they should be). Take your lumps and try again next season.

    October 9, 2012 at 7:11 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Gladiators?

    Sports are quickly becoming nothing more than a "blood fest". Playing for "bounties" is found even at the high school level. It's pretty pathetic. True sportsmanship doesn't exist anymore.

    October 9, 2012 at 7:11 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Hamsta

    Just another example of why people in louisiana dislike the federal government. They have only made movies about this very subject for 20+ years, and guess what? That's standard high school practice. But leave it to some federal bureaucracy to punish only louisiana for things everyone does.

    October 9, 2012 at 7:12 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Tbonz

      Uh . . . you know the Commish doesn't work for the federal government, right?

      October 9, 2012 at 7:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sinfully Yours

      You mean Roger isn't the head of the Goodell Commission and the founder of the FBI?!

      October 10, 2012 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
  9. RonPaulsAFTERLIFE

    I was speaking to Ron Paul in the afterlife.... and his mother and daughters often called Ayn Rand and they
    all said exactly the same thing as King Romney- too many bad bets on the Saints. :)

    October 9, 2012 at 8:20 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Emma

    I agree

    October 9, 2012 at 8:24 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. banasy©

    Ugly, very ugly.
    Grow up.

    October 9, 2012 at 9:15 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Chip Douglas

    Bunch of thugs and cheats. Take away their 1 stupid SB trophy too, I say.

    October 10, 2012 at 12:18 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Sinfully Yours

      No need to take it away: when the next Katrina hits, it'll get looted and never be seen again.

      October 10, 2012 at 11:58 am | Report abuse |
  13. Hide Behind

    Is boxing a sport? Football has turned into a battle of the fattest. linemen who run 50 yards and then need oxygen. Males that cannot play a full game so have divided it up into special teams. offensive and defensive teams with quarterbacks that have special rules to prtect their poorly built bodies.
    Heck the cheerleaders are more athletic than the players and besides having comely appearances they are probably in far better shape than all but a few running backs.

    October 10, 2012 at 1:45 am | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Sinfully Yours

    @ MC:
    You must be one of those boys who never made the football team as a kid, so you were forced to play soccer and are still holding that grudge to this day.

    October 10, 2012 at 11:57 am | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Sharp

    Only the jaded & bloodthirsty & childish want football to be a blood sport. A good game, well played is worth watching but deliberate injury is dishonorable. A better message would be to ban the worst for life. That's what happened to Tanya Harding, the figure skater, when she was part of a brutal attack on another rival Olympic figure skater. Will pro football sweep this under the rug until there is a death? Why isn't the player's union on the side of honest , clean playing men?

    October 10, 2012 at 8:33 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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