Roger Goodell has taken another look at the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal and has issued new penalties to the players involved.
Jonathan Vilma, Scott Fujita, Will Smith, and Anthony Hargrove had their punishments temporarily suspended last month by an appeals panel. Goodell has taken another look at the case and has changed a few of the penalties.
According to CBS Sports, Linebacker Jonathan Vilma will be suspended for the rest of the season. Defensive end Will Smith will receive a four game suspension. Scott Fujita, who was initially suspended for three games, had his punishment reduced to just one game. And Anthony Hargrove, who was initially suspended for 8 games, will have to sit on the sidelines for 7 games.
Goodell, who met with several people involved with the scandal last month, said:
“In my recent meetings with the players and their counsel, the players addressed the allegations and had an opportunity to tell their side of the story … In those meetings, the players confirmed many of the key facts disclosed in our investigation, most particularly that the program offered cash rewards for ‘cart-offs,’ that players were encouraged to ‘crank up the John Deere tractor’ and have their opponents carted off the field, and that rewards were offered and paid for plays that resulted in opposing players having to leave the field of play.”
Goodell reduced the sentences for the players involved with the scandal but the NFL Player’s Association was still upset with the outcome.
The NFLPA said:
“For more than six months, the NFL has ignored the facts, abused the process outlined in our collective bargaining agreement and failed to produce evidence that the players intended to injure anyone, ever. The only evidence that exists is the league’s gross violation of fair due process, transparency and impartiality during this process. Truth and fairness have been the casualties of the league’s refusal to admit that it might have made a mistake. We will review this decision thoroughly and review all options to protect our players’ rights with vigilance.”
USA Today reports that Smith, Vilma, Fujita, and Hargrove could file another appeal.
The Saints players aren’t the only one’s being punished for the bounty scandal. Head coach Sean Payton has been suspended for the entire 2012 season, defensive coordinator Gregg Williams has been banned form the league indefinitely, General Manager Mickey Loomis was suspended for 8 games, and assistant head coach Joe Vitt received a 6 game suspension.