Saints Player Bounty Suspensions Overturned
A three-member panel overturned the NFL’s ruling that New Orleans Saints players involved in the team’s infamous bounty scandal would be suspended, a source told Sports Illustrated’s Jim Trotter. ProFootballTalk has confirmed this. Saints LB Jonathan Vilma and free agent DE Anthony Hargrove were suspended in May for half the 2012 season, Saints DE Will Smith was banned for four games and Cleveland’s Scott Fujita was suspended for three games. Now they’ll be eligible to play week one.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that the panel ruled that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell does not have the jurisdiction to suspend these players. According to Trotter, the decision states that “Goodell can reconsider discipline only if there is evidence of intent to injure beyond just a performance pool.” So he can suspend the players again, there just has to be more of a formal process this time, it seems.
Vilma had ardently fought and argued that he and his current and former suspended teammates in no way intended to injure other players. Now he’ll be able to play this season but since he missed training camp, he will likely be placed on the Physically Unable to Perform list and miss the first six weeks, according to Mike Triplett of the New Orleans Times-Picayune. ESPN’s Ed Werder says that Smith will play on Sunday for the Saints as they host Washington.