Four players connected to the New Orleans Saints bounty program have had their guilty rulings overturned by a three-man arbitration panel. Reported by ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter, the ruling will mean playing time for Jonathan Vilma, Will Smith, Scott Fujita, and Anthony Hargrove.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell found all four of the men guilty in and then refused their appeals. The men threatened a federal lawsuit and sought arbitration.
It didn’t take long for Jonathan Vilma to proclaim his victory in the case. Vilma on Friday afternoon tweeted:
“Victory is mine!!!! -stewie griffin.”
The panel only ruled on the four players in question, which means coaches Gregg Williams, Sean Payton, and Joe Vitt are still serving the full length of their own suspensions.
The players and their NFL Players Association representation argued that Commissioner Goodell abused his authority and follow improper investigation guidelines that ultimately led to his poor decision.
New Orleans Saints players came under attack for allegedly taking money to injure players on opposing teams. Coach Sean Payton was suspended for the entire season and has done very little to argue his own case. The players, however, argued that there was no evidence of wrongdoing on their part.
While Jonathan Vilma is happy to have the ruling overturned, he won’t be able to play for at least one to two weeks. Vilma is currently rehabilitating a knee injury.
Do you think the arbitration panel made the right decision by issuing a reinstatement order for the suspended NFL players?